Deal told reporters at a news conference Tuesday, "it's real unlikely that we would put a freeze on it." He said "it's something the General Assembly should take up rather than the governor just ad hoc on his own taking action on it."
A change in state law in 2003 mandated an increase in the state gasoline tax when "the retail price changes by 25 percent or more within a semiannual period." This means that every six months the state can profit from the very inflation that robs people of the buying power needed for essentials including food and energy and gasoline.
That travesty was visited upon the people of Georgia four months into the administration of Sonny Perdue, first Republican governor since Reconstruction. However, in 2008 when gasoline prices soared to an average $3.91 per gallon, Perdue suspended the 2.9 cents per gallon hike which would have been a whopping 26 percent jump in the state tax to 13.9 cents.
In comparison, the current rate of 10.1 cents (including the base tax of 7.5 cents plus the floating amount based on price) will climb to 12.9 cents per gallon Sunday - an increase of 27.7 percent, even bigger than the 2008 hike Perdue suspended after the average gasoline price in Georgia had risen 27 percent from a year earlier.
The 2008 tax hike would have produced a $70 million to $80 million windfall, but Perdue said higher costs of gasoline and other motor fuels would "impose significant financial burdens on all Georgians and Georgia's businesses." The price inflation, he said, "can prevent Georgians from spending on other necessary goods and business expansion."
Gov. Deal shows no such empathy for Georgians or Georgia's businesses facing gasoline prices averaging $3.76 per gallon for regular yesterday - up 99 cents or nearly 36 percent from a year ago, much bigger than the 2008 jump that prompted Perdue to suspend the tax hike.
Perdue's order in June 2008 remained in effect until the legislature convened six months later. If Deal followed suit, his order would stay in effect only until a special session of the General Assembly is expected to convene this summer for redistricting.
Deal needs to look at the brutal reality of what inflation is doing to Georgians. The U.S. Agriculture Department just raised its inflation forecast for ground beef and steak to 6-7 percent this year, up from 4.5-5.5 percent, and up to 7.5 percent more for pork. Corn prices at $7.70 per bushel have doubled from $3.49 last July - meaning higher prices for almost everything. Meanwhile, household purchasing power keeps shrinking.
Deal's "no deal" on suspending the gasoline tax hike is a rotten deal for Georgians.