Deal won't halt Ga. gas tax hike tied to formula

ATLANTA — More pain at the pump is on the way for Georgia motorists, as the state's gas tax is set to rise by about 3 cents a gallon on Sunday as a result of a formula tied to fuel prices.

The increase — which also will add an additional two cents a gallon in many counties — takes effect as part of a tax rate change that usually takes place twice a year. Part of the state gas tax is pegged to the average price of gas, and when that price rises, the tax jumps as well.

Gov. Nathan Deal, a Republican who could issue an executive order to freeze the rate, said it was unlikely he would do so.

"I think it's real unlikely that we would put a freeze on it," Deal told reporters Tuesday at a press conference. "I think for a change to be made it's something the General Assembly should take up rather than the governor just ad hoc on his own taking action on it."

Deal's predecessor, Gov. Sonny Perdue, halted what would have been a 2.9-cent-per-gallon jump in June 2008, saying the state should not reap a $70 million to $80 million tax windfall because of spiking pump prices. He also suspended the state sales tax on gasoline for a month in 2005 as prices soared in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

The gas tax issue has long frustrated Georgia motorists, and lawmakers this year considered making changes to the gas tax rules but adjourned without taking action.

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