Gov. Deal prevents increase in gas tax

Nathan Deal

Nathan Deal

Gov. Nathan Deal announced Tuesday he will stop an increase in the motor fuel tax scheduled to go into effect July 1.

According to the Office of the Governor, the average price of a gallon of gas has increased to $3.66 from $3.21 since January and would have resulted in a 15 percent increase in the state gas tax.

“We’re seeing a steady rebound in Georgia’s economy, with our unemployment rate going down and state revenues heading up, but Georgians are still paying gas prices that are high by historical standards,” Deal said. “To remove this financial burden on Georgia taxpayers and businesses, I signed an executive order suspending the motor fuel tax increase set for next month. This will help cut costs for families and keep us the No. 1 place in the nation for business.”

Every six months, at the start of January and July, the Department of Revenue sets the motor fuel tax based on an average of prices. A recent rise in gas prices called for an increase in the motor fuel tax. Major fluctuations in gas prices can also trigger an increase or decrease within those six month periods, but this increase was part of the regular six-month schedule set in law.

The governor has the power to suspend collection of a tax until the next meeting of the General Assembly, which must ratify the suspension.

Gas prices showing slow decrease

Prices at the pumps in the Southeast made modest declines last week, according to AAA — The Auto Club Group, and the fall in prices is likely to continue.

“Fundamentals are putting downward pressure on the price of oil,” said Mark Jenkins, spokesman for AAA. “Motorists could see prices fall at a faster rate in the coming weeks.”

The price of oil fell for the first time in four months because of increased supplies, decreased consumer spending and easing geopolitical tensions. Crude oil stockpiles reached their highest level since 1982. Consumer spending fell 0.3 percent in April, the most since September 2009. Russia withdrew the majority of its military forces from the Ukrainian border, helping to ease concerns in the market of a supply disruption.

The national average price of regular unleaded gasoline was $3.67, 1 cent more than last week, but Georgia’s average of $3.59 came down a cent Monday. A week ago, Georgia’s average price was $3.62 down from $3.69 a month ago. A year ago, drivers were paying $3.45 for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline.