With bipartisan support, the state decided to forgo the tax for 10 months from March 2022 to January 2023. Kemp benefited from a wave of media coverage each time it was extended as he ran for reelection. He lifted it in January at a time when prices fell below $3 per gallon.
But as prices ticked up again, the Republican Kemp revived the tax break in September, blaming Democratic President Joe Biden’s administration. Analysts attribute the higher prices partly to cuts in oil production by Saudi Arabia and its allies, along with rising demand.
The suspension costs the state — and saves drivers — $150 million to $190 million a month. Kemp said Georgians saved $1.7 billion during the previous 10-month suspension.
Georgia can afford the financial setback. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution recently reported the state has a record $16 billion in its rainy day and “undesignated” reserve funds, though Kemp’s critics say the money should be spent expanding Medicaid and boosting salaries of state employees.
The governor said the order will help Georgians save millions of dollars more ahead of the busy Thanksgiving travel season.
Lt. Gov. Burt Jones and House Speaker Jon Burns praised the extension, a sign they will rally Republicans behind a vote this month to ratify Kemp’s orders to suspend the tax.
According to AAA, the average cost of a gallon of regular gas in Georgia is currently at $2.89, down from $3.16 a month ago and a peak of $4.50 in June 2022.