ATLANTA — Georgia’s governor is again suspending state taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel, declaring a legal emergency over higher prices.
Gov. Brian Kemp signed the executive order Tuesday morning. The suspension of the taxes, at 31.2 cents per gallon of gasoline and 35 cents per gallon of diesel fuel, begins Wednesday and lasts through Oct. 12.
Georgia’s government gave up an estimated $1.7 billion in revenue during an earlier suspension over 10 months from March 2022 to January 2023, about $170 million a month.
Georgia can easily afford to forgo the cash, which is used mostly for roadbuilding. Not only is its rainy day account full, but it has roughly $10 billion in additional surplus cash in state accounts. The state is also likely to run another multibillion dollar surplus in the budget year that began July 1, unless revenues fall sharply.
The move also lets Kemp shift the state’s political conversation, which has been consumed by a Fulton County grand jury’s indictment of former President Donald Trump and 18 others for attempting to overturn Georgia’s 2020 presidential election results. Kemp has refused attempts to retaliate against the prosecutor in that case despite an outcry from the most pro-Trump elements of the Republican Party, underlining the divide between Kemp and those forces.
The gas tax rebate lets Kemp instead pivot to talking about his tax cut efforts. He says they are an attempt to help Georgia residents fight inflation, even though most economists say putting more money into consumers’ pockets actually feeds higher prices. Overall, inflation has been easing in the United States in recent months. Inflation data in August showed that overall consumer prices rose 3.2% from a year earlier. That was up from a 3% annual ri