By Tom Ozimek
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has declared a state of emergency due to high inflation and negative economic conditions affecting Georgians “as a result of policies coming out of Washington,” with the governor suspending taxes on diesel and gasoline to provide relief.
Mr. Kemp signed an executive order on Sept. 12, declaring a legal emergency over higher prices and suspending state taxes on diesel and gasoline starting on Sept. 13 and lasting through Oct. 12.
“From runaway federal spending to policies that hamstring domestic energy production, all Bidenomics has done is take more money out of the pockets of the middle class,” Mr. Kemp said in a statement.
“While high prices continue to hit family budgets, hardworking Georgians deserve real relief and that’s why I signed an executive order today to deliver it directly to them at the pump,” he added.
While inflation has come down from the 9.1 percent peak in June 2022, many consumers are still reeling from persistently elevated price pressures of recent years.
“The high inflation of the past two-plus years has done lots of economic damage. Due to the high inflation, the typical household spent $202 more in a July than they did a year ago to buy the same goods and services. And they spent $709 more than they did two years ago,” Moody’s Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi wrote in a recent post on X.
Mr. Kemp referred to the Moody’s Analytics calculations in his emergency declaration announcement, while noting that suspending the state excise tax will save Georgians 31.2 cents per gallon of gasoline and 35 cents per gallon of diesel.
Prior Gas Tax Suspension
Previously, Mr. Kemp suspended Georgia’s gas tax in March 2022 when inflation was running hotter. He signed seven extensions after that, finally announcing in December 2022 that he would stop extending it.
“When the gas tax was suspended from March through December of last year, 2022, Georgians saved roughly $1.7 billion at the pump,” Mr. Kemp’s office said in a statement.
Georgia House Speaker Jon Burns, a Republican, praised Mr. Kemp’s decision to suspend motor fuel taxes “to keep our people and our economy moving despite Washington’s inaction on rising fuel prices.”
The average cost of regular gasoline in Georgia is currently $3.57 per gallon, up from $3.24 a year ago, according to AAA.
Mr. Kemp’s office said that drivers can expect to see lower prices at the pump within a few days.
“DON’T FILL YOUR TANK today if you live in Georgia, cheaper #gasprices coming,” Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, said in a post on X.
A week ago, gas prices rose to their highest seasonal level since 2012, defying expectations for significant relief at the pumps after Labor Day weekend, which marks the unofficial end to the summer driving season.
Sept. 5, the first working day after Labor Day, saw the national average cost for a gallon of regular-grade gas at $3.81, which is the second-highest for that time of year since 1994.
Typically, the end of the summer driving season is marked by expectations that pump prices will ease, though these may fall flatter this season as the Energy Information Administration (EIA) expects that crude demand will stay high amid relatively strong economic indicators in the United States coupled with Saudi Arabia’s decision to slash oil production.
“We expect the production cuts, combined with increasing demand, will cause global oil inventories to fall and put upward pressure on crude oil prices through the end of this year,” the agency stated in its This Week in Petroleum report on Aug. 30.
Defying widespread predictions for declines after Labor Day—but in line with EIA’s projection for continued upward price pressures—gasoline prices have continued to rise over the past week. The current national average now sits at $3.85 per gallon, per AAA.
Mr. Haan told The Epoch Times in an emailed statement that “with the switch back to winter gasoline less than two weeks away, we could eventually see more downward pressure on gas prices.”
Inflation Still Squeezing Households
Although the pace of inflation has slowed significantly from the 9.1 percent peak in June 2022, several recent surveys indicate that Americans continue to feel the pain of high prices.
According to a Bankrate survey in July, 72 percent of Americans don’t feel financially secure. Among them, 63 percent say that high inflation is making it hard for them to be financially comfortable.
Another survey by Bankrate in June found that 68 percent of Americans are saving less for unexpected situations because of inflation.
And a survey from the nonpartisan Senior Citizens League showed that about two-thirds of retirees said that high prices have forced them to put off dental care, including major work such as dentures, bridges, and implants.
“High costs have significantly impacted older Americans’ ability to access healthcare,” the advocacy group said in a statement.
Nearly one-third of respondents said that they had postponed filling prescriptions or getting medical care, while 8 in 10 said that essentials such as food and housing are costing them more today than a year ago.
The latest consumer price index data show that housing costs have risen 7.7 percent over the past year, while rent is up 8 percent.
Some analysts expect that the pace of inflation in housing will slow down significantly going forward because there’s a lag in rental costs being reflected in the government’s inflation figures.