Gas tax hike a blip, so far

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The much feared Georgia gas tax hike (which caused more quaking among state politicians than the actual citizenry) has been in effect almost a week. And so far, it has barely caused a ripple in the public consciousness.

As my AJC colleagues Greg Bluestein and Daniel Malloy point out in their politics blog today, the AAA fuel report over the weekend showed the price of a regular gallon of gas at $2.66. That’s about the same it was before the new gas taxes took hold.

Georgia’s gas tax rate went from a net 19-or-so cents per gallon (based upon a combined 7.5-cent excise tax and 4 percent sales tax) to a straight 26-cent-per-gallon excise tax on July 1.

The result is about a 6 to 7 cent increase in the wholesale per-gallon price of gasoline.

Jay Roberts, former Ocilla Republican who was co-architect of the Transportation Funding Act of 2015, said Monday that the tax has been little felt because gas prices already vary widely from station to station based on local competition and fluctuate according to market forces.

“We also need to remember that bottom line is most of our retailers have paid the old motor fuel tax and haven’t received a new load,” Roberts said. “And that’s where they’ll pay the new motor fuel tax. (After that) you may see a little bump, but that varies from station to station.”

Roberts said some distributors might absorb the wholesale-level price increase, while others will pass it along to the customer.

“It goes back to competition, which is what sets the price in a certain area,” Roberts said.

A 26-cent-per-gallon gas tax isn’t the new normal for Georgia, though. It will probably be going up again next July. That’s because the law ties the gas tax rate to inflation in highway construction costs and to changing fuel efficiency standards.

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