Abrams presses Kemp to suspend state gas tax through end of 2022

May 26, 2022 Atlanta: The Uptown Station Exxon on Peachtree Street and Peachtree Circle in Midtown Atlanta had regular for $4.59 a gallon and diesel for $5.39 on Thursday, May 26, 2022 before the Memorial Day travel weekend gets underway Friday. The unofficial kickoff for summer will be a busy one on the roads, the American Automobile Association, or AAA, predicts nearly 35 million people will travel by car during Memorial Day weekend. Ahead of the busy Memorial Day weekend, Gov. Brian Kemp signed an executive order Thursday that extends Georgia’s motor fuel tax break through July 14 in a new effort to bring down gas prices. He signed the order less than a week before a bipartisan law that suspended the 29.1 cents-a-gallon motor fuel tax through May 31 was set to expire. The move, implemented in mid-March, saved drivers more than $300 million in taxes, a loss of revenue Kemp said would be plugged with surplus state funds. Kemp’s office expects overall tax collections to cover the lost fuel tax revenue that was earmarked for transportation spending without facing a shortfall. (John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com)

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

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May 26, 2022 Atlanta: The Uptown Station Exxon on Peachtree Street and Peachtree Circle in Midtown Atlanta had regular for $4.59 a gallon and diesel for $5.39 on Thursday, May 26, 2022 before the Memorial Day travel weekend gets underway Friday. The unofficial kickoff for summer will be a busy one on the roads, the American Automobile Association, or AAA, predicts nearly 35 million people will travel by car during Memorial Day weekend. Ahead of the busy Memorial Day weekend, Gov. Brian Kemp signed an executive order Thursday that extends Georgia’s motor fuel tax break through July 14 in a new effort to bring down gas prices. He signed the order less than a week before a bipartisan law that suspended the 29.1 cents-a-gallon motor fuel tax through May 31 was set to expire. The move, implemented in mid-March, saved drivers more than $300 million in taxes, a loss of revenue Kemp said would be plugged with surplus state funds. Kemp’s office expects overall tax collections to cover the lost fuel tax revenue that was earmarked for transportation spending without facing a shortfall. (John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com)

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

Gov. Brian Kemp recently extended Georgia’s motor fuel tax break until mid-July. Now his Democratic opponent wants him to suspend the state sales tax on gas through the end of the year to limit the rising costs.

“The time to do the right thing is well past overdue,” Stacey Abrams said in a statement Tuesday to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Suspend the state gas tax through the end of the year and give hardworking Georgians the stability they deserve.”

Georgia’s leading politicians have found rare common cause around the idea of suspending the 29.1 cents-a-gallon motor fuel tax as prices reach new highs, though they differ on how long it should be frozen.

A bipartisan coalition of lawmakers passed legislation in mid-March to temporarily halt the collection of the state sales tax until May, saving drivers more than $300 million in taxes. Kemp later extended the break through July 14.

An Abrams aide said she would finance the extension of the gas tax break, which amounts to roughly $170 million a month in tax revenue vital to transportation projects, by dipping into the state’s surplus. Kemp‘s office used budget surplus funds to fill the gap for the first few weeks of the tax break.

Kemp spokesman Tate Mitchell said the “jaw-dropping hypocrisy of the Abrams campaign gained a new chapter“ with her appeal to extend the break.

“Abrams took credit for Joe Biden’s win, supports his disastrous policies at every turn, and opposes Governor Kemp’s action to address inflation and the cost of living,” he said.

“She now suddenly backs a proposal which she has no plan to pay for because her campaign just realized what hardworking Georgians have known all along: Georgia can’t afford four years of the Biden-Abrams agenda.”

Georgia Democrats have embraced the tax breaks to counter GOP attacks blaming them for higher fuel prices. U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, also up for reelection, has made his proposal to suspend the 18.4 cents-per-gallon federal gas tax until 2023 a staple of his campaign message.

Georgia gas prices hit new heights on Tuesday, according to AAA, with an average statewide cost of $4.33 for a gallon of regular unleaded fuel. That’s still well below the national average of $4.92 per gallon.

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Brian Kemp wins Republican nomination for governor, setting up rematch with Stacey Abrams

Brian Kemp wins Republican nomination for governor, setting up rematch with Stacey Abrams

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Brian Kemp wins Republican nomination for governor, setting up rematch with Stacey Abrams

Here’s the full statement:

“Right now in Georgia under Brian Kemp, gas prices are skyrocketing, inflation has destabilized our economy and the price of groceries is increasingly out of reach – but Brian Kemp is more focused on political stunts rather than providing stability for Georgia families. If Brian Kemp is serious about helping Georgians cope with inflation, he should suspend the state gas tax through the end of the year.

Georgians cannot afford for Brian Kemp to use the state gas tax as a political football when they are struggling to feed their families and keep their jobs.

He has already refused to accept funds for school lunches during the summer, and his administration continues to delay aid for affordable housing across the state. Georgia families deserve predictability and stability – temporarily suspending the state gas tax for what amounts to little less than two months at a time leaves families struggling to plan and budget, unsure of if or when Brian Kemp will decide to raise prices at the pump again. He is making decisions based on polling, not people’s real pain.

Unlike Brian Kemp, I actually care about Georgians; and I will always fight for them. The time to do the right thing is well past overdue. Suspend the state gas tax through the end of the year and give hardworking Georgians the stability they deserve. I will fight every single day to be the governor Georgians need to not simply survive but to thrive.”