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DeSantis pitches plan for ‘gas tax relief’

FILE - In this April 30, 2021, file photo surrounded by lawmakers, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis...
FILE - In this April 30, 2021, file photo surrounded by lawmakers, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at the end of a legislative session at the Capitol in Tallahassee, Fla.(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)
Published: Nov. 22, 2021 at 12:11 PM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (NSF) - To confront inflation, Gov. Ron DeSantis said Monday he will ask lawmakers next year to temporarily “zero out” state gas taxes.

Continuing to contrast his economic approach to the Biden White House, DeSantis said the approximately 25-cent-a-gallon “gas tax relief” proposal could save the average Florida family up to $200 over a five-to-six-month period, while reducing state revenue by more than $1 billion. DeSantis wants lawmakers to approve it during the legislative session that starts Jan. 11.

“We’ve always been very strong on tax relief in Florida. We did things like sportsmen’s relief (a sales-tax “holiday” around July 4). We’ve done back-to-school (tax holidays). We’ve done all that stuff. And that’s good. But this is, I think, really, really big,” DeSantis said while at a Buc-ee’s convenience store in Daytona Beach.

Later at a Daily’s convenience store in Jacksonville, DeSantis said, “It’s clearly not going to eliminate all the inflation, because it’s gone up so much. But it will make a real difference in folks’ pocketbooks. And I think we’re going to get a lot of good support for that.”

Arch “Beaver” Aplin III, owner of the Texas-based Buc-ee’s chain, called the proposal a “phenomenal idea” and said he anticipates “most companies” will lower pump prices when the discount is enacted.

“If this, in fact, happens and they lower the tax, the day they lower it we’ll roll back the pumps the entire 25 cents instantly,” Aplin said.

Florida has deep financial reserves because of federal COVID-19 stimulus money, and DeSantis said the reduction in gas-tax revenue won’t hinder the state Department of Transportation’s annual road program.

“We’re doing infrastructure, not just roads, including roads, also the water resources, all that,” DeSantis said. “We probably have never had such strong reserves in the history of the state. So, we have the ability to provide relief for people, and I don’t think we’re going to miss a beat.”

Meanwhile, the AAA auto club reported the price of gas in Florida heading into the Thanksgiving holiday jumped 10 cents in the past week to an average of $3.36 a gallon for regular unleaded.

The mark is the highest for the state since September 2014.

Last year, as motorists cut travel because of COVID-19, gas was selling at an average of $2.03 a gallon heading into the holiday. Two years ago, the average was $2.44 a gallon.

Copyright 2021 News Service of Florida. All rights reserved.