Georgia lawmakers approve fuel tax freeze

| Monday, August 29, 2011

A special session in Georgia geared toward nailing down the state’s legislative district maps also provided some answers to two questions that covered transportation issues.

State lawmakers ratified a freeze in the tax collected on fuel purchases.

Georgia’s fuel tax is a two-part tax. A 4 percent portion of the tax is calculated twice per year and is based on the average price per gallon of fuel in the state at the time. The rate can change every six months on Jan. 1 and July 1.

Gov. Nathan Deal decided in June to freeze the state’s fuel taxes to help consumers avoid more pain at the pump. The tax rates were slated to increase the first of July.

As required by state law, the Georgia House and Senate approved the freeze through the end of the year with passage of a bill – HB2EX.

Not collecting the tax is expected to cost the state an estimated $40 million in revenue that would have been used for roads. There has not been any indication how the state will make up for the lost revenue.

This marks the third time in six years the state’s taxes on fuel have been frozen. Then-Gov. Sonny Perdue acted to keep the tax rates the same in the summer of 2008 and for one month in the fall of 2005 following Hurricane Katrina.

Also addressed at the statehouse was a bill sought by Deal – HB3EX – to move planned votes on 12 regional transportation referendums.

If approved by voters, the referendums would add a 1-cent sales tax to pay for a predetermined list of road, bridge and transit projects in their region. The governor wants to push back votes from the 2012 presidential primary ballot on July 31 to the Nov. 6 general election.

Deal said the move would encourage participation because voters typically show up in greater numbers for a general election.

However, Republican leaders were unable to reach agreement on the election date and decided to suspend consideration of the change. Deal said it was a joint decision with House and Senate leadership.

The governor said in a statement “it’s now obvious that it will take too much time to reach a consensus on changing the date. It’s best for taxpayers that we not let this special session drag on.”

The issue could be brought back for consideration during the regular session that begins in January.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Georgia, click here.

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