Kemp extends gas tax break until after November election

Gov. Brian Kemp has suspended the state sales tax on motor fuel until after the November election, the latest in a series of steps by the Republican to extend a tax break that took effect in March.

The governor signed an executive order on Monday that suspends the 29.1 cents-a-gallon state tax until Nov. 11. That’s three days after the Republican faces a rematch against Democrat Stacey Abrams.

Kemp has used each monthly announcement to extend the tax break to blame Democrats for high gas prices and promote his efforts to provide relief at the pump. Abrams and other Democrats have pushed him to go a step further and announce he would suspend the state tax on fuel through 2022.

The governor signed a law in March that cleared the Legislature with the backing of most Democrats and Republicans to allow him to suspend the gas tax through May, and he’s since announced extensions each month, benefiting from a wave of media coverage each time.

Each extension deprives the state of roughly $150 million to $170 million a month in tax revenue used to finance transportation projects, such as road construction and bridge maintenance. Kemp’s office has used the state’s surplus — built with rising income and sales tax revenue — to plug the gap.

After a prolonged upward tear, gas prices have been on decline in recent months, though economists are wary the trend could reverse amid tightening supply and rising demand.

The average price for a gallon of gas in Georgia was $3.17 on Monday, down from $4.33 on July 1.