DeSantis proposes $1 billion in gas tax relief

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis proposed a $1 billion gas tax relief plan on Monday to offset rising gas prices.

At a press conference held at a Buc-ee’s travel center in Daytona, DeSantis sounded the alarm about economic inflation impacting the country.

“We now know this is real. This is really, really serious,” he said. “What’s most dramatic for most people because they feel this in their everyday lives is how much gas prices have gone up.”

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A gallon of gas in Daytona one year ago cost $1.31 less per gallon than today’s price of $3.34, DeSantis said.

“That’s a cost that gets imposed on a lot of people who work hard,” he said. 

DeSantis blamed the supply chain backup throughout the U.S. for “exacerbating inflation.”

“That contributes to the inflation because you don’t have as many goods in markets so cost goes up,” he said. “This is being driven by inflationary policies by the federal government.”

The governor likened the gas tax relief concept to Florida’s back-to-school-tax and sportsman tax relief efforts.

If the Legislature passes the proposal, it will be up to the gas suppliers to pass on the 25 cents per-gallon tax credit to consumers.

Arch “Beaver” Aplin, president and CEO of Buc-ee’s travel center vowed that his chain of gas stations would honor the tax cut if it passes.

“Buc-ee’s will absolutely commit,” Aplin said about rolling back the prices at the pump the day the tax break goes into effect. “And I’m quite certain that our friends and other great business operators, [such as] WaWa’s as well will do it.”

DeSantis said he considered proposing relief at toll booths but is focusing on gas prices instead.

“The average family over a five- or six-month period could save up to $200,” he said. 

During the Thanksgiving holiday week in 2020, gas prices hit an all-time low in Florida, averaging $2.03 per gallon.

Currently, GasBuddy reports a range of gas prices per regular gallon in Alachua County from $3.13 in Gainesville to $3.46 in Newberry.

Also on Monday, AAA released news that falling oil prices might cause gas pump prices to decline. The price of crude oil dropped to mid-$70s per gallon from above $80 per gallon, according to the AAA report.

“Fears of slowing economic activity in the U.S. and Europe due to a resurgence of COVID-19, along with reports that the Biden Administration is calling for a simultaneous release of stockpiled oil by large oil-consuming nations, including the U.S., China, Japan and South Korea, is putting downward pressure on crude prices,” AAA reported. “The national average price for a gallon of gas is $3.40, down a penny since last week.” 

While a variety of factors go into gas prices, crude oil cost is a leading indicator.

“The price of crude oil accounts for about 50 to 60 percent of what consumers pay at the pump, so a lower oil price should translate into better gasoline prices for drivers,” according to AAA spokesperson Andrew Gross. “But until global oil production ramps back up to pre-pandemic levels, this recent dip in the price of crude may only be temporary.”

AAA reported that Florida had the highest weekly increase in gas prices per gallon with a 9-cent hike followed by Arizona up 7 cents, Washington, D.C., Michigan, Texas, and Indiana dropping 5 cents, Ohio and Kansas dropping 4 cents, and Oklahoma and Kentucky dropping 3 cents.

California currently tops the nation’s most expensive gas markets at $4.70 per gallon.

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