During stops at convenience stores in Daytona and Jacksonville, Gov. Ron DeSantis said he intends to propose “over a billion dollars in gas tax relief for Florida families” as a hedge against inflation.
Florida would “basically zero out” the 26.5-cent a gallon state gas tax for “as long as we can,” DeSantis said at the Daytona Buc-ee’s early Monday morning.
DeSantis noted Florida has always “been very strong on tax relief,” citing back to school and sportsmen tax holidays. But he suggested this was even more important.
“This is really, really big to be able to help people,” DeSantis said in Daytona.
DeSantis said the House and Senate are ready to move also.
“I know they want to work with us on gas tax relief,” DeSantis said in Daytona of the Legislature, before rattling off a laundry list of other priorities in a “very, very busy” 2022 Legislative Session.
Corporate partners, including Buc-ees, are vowing to “rollback” prices 25 cents a gallon if the tax relief becomes law.
It is unknown whether smaller operators will be able to afford to do this, but the Governor suggested that if a big store like Buc-ee’s lowers prices, the competition will have to follow suit.
“It’s a competitive market,” DeSantis said in Jacksonville, at the second news conference of the morning highlighting this proposal.
Indeed, a number of companies are ready to lower prices.
“Governor DeSantis is spot on. It’s tough right now. Keeping up with costs, costs are rising every single day and this is an incredible way to give back to everyday Floridians,” said Aubrey Edge, President and CEO of Daily’s.
“This gas tax relief is going to make it right back to the customer and it will happen instantly as soon as the legislature gets it done and we are happy to be a part of it,” said Arch H. “Beaver” Applin III, President of Buc-ee’s.
“Wawa is supportive of the Governor’s leadership and this action to provide relief for consumers at the pump,” said Chris Gheysens, President & CEO of Wawa, Inc.
DeSantis said his office talked to still other chains, including smaller ones like Race Trac, and they are on board. The Governor noted gas sales often serve as an inducement for people to buy other things.
“I buy so much stuff when I go into the gas station,” DeSantis said.
In the gas station and everywhere else, price pressures are clear to the Governor.
“Man, this inflation is real, and we need to do something about it,” DeSantis said, noting rising prices are a “huge problem” for “blue-collar” and “people on fixed incomes.”
Republican legislators from throughout the area, including Sen. Tom Wright and Rep. Elizabeth Fetterhoff, were on hand in Dayton
The Governor headed to Jacksonville for another news conference later in the morning, where Duval County Republicans were on hand. Congressman John Rutherford, state Reps. Cord Byrd and Jason Fischer and expected mayoral candidate Daniel Davis also showed up, with Davis standing behind the Governor throughout the event.
JAXPORT CEO Eric Green testified to the impact of high gas prices on shipping, lauding DeSantis’ “quick action.”
But is it quick enough?
Democrats running for Governor, most notably U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, have suggested a gas tax suspension through the holidays. Crist issued a statement criticizing this proposal as insufficient.
“Gov. DeSantis, is a day late and a dollar short as usual. Last week’s not-so-Special Session should have addressed this issue instead of focusing on making it easier for the pandemic to continue spreading. Now in the best case, Floridians will have to wait months for any reduction in gas taxes,” Crist said.
Florida’s gas tax is currently 26.5 cents a gallon. It is just one component of taxation, including federal gas taxes (18.4 cents a gallon) and local option gas taxes, which can be up to 12 cents a gallon.
The Governor can only affect the first of those categories.
A.G. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies “best political column.” He can be reached at AG@FloridaPolitics.com.
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