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Thursday, August 11, 2011 - 11:37am

Gas Tax On Special Session Agenda

Gov. Nathan Deal wants legislators to ratify his decision to temporarily suspend state gas tax increases. It would be part of the special session.

Since Gov. Deal froze the gas tax in June, the state hasn't collected the additional taxes. Spokesman Brian Robinson says Deal has the power to suspend any state tax.

But he needs legislators to write a bill that allows for the uncollected taxes.

“The legislature is going to need to come in after the fact to suspend the liability for that tax, if that makes sense," Robinson said. "The tax is still on the books. So unless the legislature acts, the bill would come due for the taxes that haven’t been paid in the meantime."

Robinson said he expects overwhelming support for the measure, given the historic recession.

But it remains unclear how the state will make up for the estimated $40 million it isn’t collecting in additional gas taxes.

Alan Essig with the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute says it’s also unclear how much consumers saved because the cost of gas is up 14 cents in the past month, according to AAA.

“Freezing an increase of a couple of pennies, it’s very doubtful in my opinion that consumers actually saw any of that savings," Essig said. "What we do know is what the state is not going to collect in tax revenues by that. It doesn’t mean consumers saved that amount of money.”

Essig adds, it’s money the state won’t have to spend on transportation projects.

Lawmakers will take up the gas tax, along with redistricting and a proposed transportation tax vote, during the special session beginning Monday.

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