Jun 8, 2022 - News

Abrams vs. Kemp on the gas tax extension

Illustration of a gas sign with a dollar sign for the "S"

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Stacey Abrams has challenged Gov. Brian Kemp to continue suspending the state gas tax through the end of the year, after Kemp opted to suspend it through mid-July.

Driving the news: Abrams in a Tuesday statement accused Kemp of using the state gas tax "as a political football." She said if he's "serious about helping Georgians cope with inflation...he should suspend the state gas tax through the end of the year."

Yes, but: The governor's office spokeswoman, Katie Byrd, tells Axios extensions of the suspension remain on the table. The state of emergency that enables the suspension is "re-evaluated in conjunction with leadership in the General Assembly near each sunset every 30 days," she said.

Why it matters: High gas prices — sitting at a statewide average of $4.38 — are driving financial decisions for Georgians, but they're also driving many political strategies. Republicans across the board are blaming Democrats and the Biden administration for the trend.

Details: The Abrams campaign's analysis of the state's revenue estimated skipping gas taxes through December would cost more than $800 million of a projected several billion dollar revenue surplus in the upcoming fiscal year.

The other side: In a Tuesday interview with CNBC, Kemp said the state's suspension "can only last for so long" and argued strong state tax revenues in Georgia have enabled the move.

  • Kemp campaign spokesman Tate Mitchell called Abrams' position "jaw-dropping hypocrisy" and said she is backing "a proposal which she has no plan to pay for."

Catch up quick: In March, Kemp first suspended the state's collection of gas taxes and last month extended that relief through mid-July. He has touted the state's below-average gas prices since.

By the numbers: In May, the state went without nearly $170 million in motor fuel tax revenue versus May 2021 because of the suspension.

Be smart: Abrams' campaign is seeking to flip the script Republicans across the board have been leveling against Democrats and the Biden administration over high gas prices.

  • Abrams spokesman Alex Floyd said Tuesday afternoon that "By refusing to follow Stacey Abrams' call, Brian Kemp has made clear he will raise prices at the pump by the end of the year."
  • Floyd highlighted that Georgia Republicans passed a state income tax cut, which critics have argued most benefits the wealthy.

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