ATLANTA — Hours after President Biden announced a ban on Russian oil imports, Gov. Brian Kemp announced he is working with local legislators to temporarily drop the fuel tax in Georgia. The statement posted to Twitter follows days of soaring fuel costs all across the Peach State.
He said that he is now working with the Georgia House and Senate to quickly move legislation to drop the tax to reduce the impact of rising gas prices on Georgia families. Georgia's fuel tax has not been dropped since last year, when a cyberattack crippled the Colonial Pipeline -- causing gas shortages.
Working with Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan and House Speaker David Ralston, Gov. Kemp's office said the measures will take effect upon the state leader's signature of HB 304. The temporary halt in state fuel taxes will then continue through May 31, the office said.
"Because of our strong, fiscally conservative budgeting, I’m confident we will be able to provide relief to hardworking Georgians - both in the form of a tax refund and lower gas taxes," he said.
The last time Georgia's fuel tax was dropped, gas prices were hovering around $3 per gallon and the tax suspension earned drivers roughly $0.29 per gallon in savings. As Georgia's fuel tax is listed as 0.291 cents per gallon for gasoline and 0.326 for diesel by the Georgia Department of Revenue, drivers would benefit roughly the same if the state leader's latest push in the Georgia Capitol makes headway.
Kemp's office reported in a Wednesday news release that the price of gas in Georgia has risen over 56% since March of last year, with average gas prices per gallon rising from $2.59 to $4.06.
Following President Biden's announced ban on Russian oil imports on Tuesday, GasBuddy expert Patrick De Haan told 11Alive's Christie Diez he does not anticipate gas prices to increase at the same "fast and furious" rate drivers have recently seen at the gas pumps.
De Haan does, however, see the national average in fuel cost rising as high as $4.50 a gallon in the weeks ahead. If the European Union decides to follow Biden's actions and sanction Russian energy, he said the average price for gas could increase as high as $5.00 a gallon.
Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan Tweeted shortly after Gov. Kemp's announcement, showing his support for the plan to temporarily suspend fuel taxes in the Peach State.
"This much needed action will help to minimize the impact of Russia’s selfish brutal dictator on millions of hardworking Georgians. I look forward to working with Gov. Kemp and Speaker Ralston to quickly get this relief effort passed into law," he said.
Speaker Ralston issued a statement in Kemp's release on Wednesday supporting the move.
"We know that Georgia families and businesses are hurting from outrageously high gas prices," Speaker Ralston said. "That’s why I’m proud to join Governor Kemp and Lt. Governor Duncan in supporting a temporary suspension of the state’s motor fuel taxes. In these extraordinary times, every little bit helps and we remain focused on keeping our people and our economy moving.”