In an effort to lighten the load on the wallets of Georgians everywhere, Governor Nathan Deal has pulled the plug on a 1.6-cent per gallon sales tax hike. The price increase would have gone into effect on July 1, 2011. This is either a brilliant move by Deal to gain some much-needed popularity or an even more brilliant legislative version of the movie “Unstoppable.”

(I know it’s a stretch, but bear with me here.) Instead of a speeding train, Deal derailed a tax increase. Both would have caused massive damage to the respective entities they were barreling toward. And in both cases, it was probably best for all involved that the general public wasn’t informed of the impending disaster beforehand.

After all, having the Georgia gas tax increase from its current rate (12.9 cents) to 14.5 cents would have cost motorists an estimated $40 million. Gov. Deal cited the falling gas prices as his reason for putting the brakes on the gas tax increase.  He believes that gas prices over the next few months will continue to decrease.

The governor’s optimism will hopefully be prophetic and keep gas prices at a reasonable rate. (Can I even use “reasonable” to describe gas prices? The fact that I’m even considering it means the government won. Congratulations big oil companies…I’m now happy about paying $3.58 per gallon.)

If Gov. Deal is right about the gas prices, Georgians can look forward to future gas taxes staying the course. According to state law, the Georgia Department of Revenue sets the sales tax on gas twice a year based on average pump prices. However, a spike in price increases of 25 percent or more during a three-week period can trigger an automatic adjustment (like the one set to occur on July 1 after a recent surge in prices). As long as the gas prices stay relatively stable, the sales tax will follow suit.

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