(The Center Square) – Democratic Congressman Charlie Crist, who is challenging Gov. Ron DeSantis in next year’s election, called on the governor to temporarily suspend Florida’s state gas tax to help lower costs at pump.
A temporary suspension would save drivers 26.5 cents a gallon through the end of 2021, Crist said in a news release, blaming the increased gas prices on Americans traveling more.
He also called on Biden to tap into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to “give all Floridians the gift of cheaper prices at the pump."
“With the holiday season approaching, it’s time the governor turned his attention to the real issues facing Floridians,” Crist said. “Instead of convening a special legislative session in Tallahassee that hurts our residents and businesses, the Governor and the Legislature should suspend the state gas tax for the rest of the year so that we can finally offer relief to hard-working Floridians and mom-and-pop small businesses being squeezed at the pump."
Freezing a state tax requires a vote from the state Legislature.
When asked what he thought of Crist's request, the governor's office reiterated a statement DeSantis made on Oct. 25: “I really hope the Biden administration will, will do all that they can to reduce the price of gas and begging OPEC to lower the price is not a sufficient plan. The gas prices are a huge deal and we need relief for that. And then we also just need relief generally from the inflation that we're seeing. You can't dismiss it and say that it was just a little blip and this is inflation. This is inflation that eats away at family's budgets.”
DeSantis' office also criticized Crist's and Democrats’ support for an infrastructure bill that will increase costs of oil and gas, including taxing drivers by the mile.
The governor’s office said Biden’s infrastructure bill, “which Crist supports, includes a pilot program to tax American drivers per mile. This is potentially even more burdensome than any gas tax, with more harmful implications for federal government surveillance and control. How does Crist reconcile this proposal with his empty rhetoric about cutting gas prices?"
According to the Florida Department of Revenue, the statewide tax rates on motor fuel and diesel fuel increased Jan. 1 of this year because Florida law requires annual adjustments to the state fuel tax rates and the State Comprehensive Enhanced Transportation System (SCETS) tax rate based on the National Consumer Price Index.
Because the index has increased exponentially this year because of skyrocketing inflation, fuel taxes are required to increase per Florida statute.
The state tax rate on motor fuel is 18.5 cents per gallon, SCETS is 8 cents per gallon, and the inspection fee on motor fuel is 0.125 cents per gallon.
The state tax rate on diesel fuel is 18.5 cents per gallon; the county tax rate is 15 cents per gallon statewide, totaling 33.5 cents per gallon statewide.
The state tax rate on aviation fuel is 4.27 cents per gallon.
In addition to the 18.5 cents per gallon of state fuel taxes collected at the loading rack, terminal suppliers are also required to collect a minimum local option fuel tax of 14 cents per gallon, a pollutants tax of 2.071 cents per gallon, and an inspection fee of 0.125 cents on each gallon of motor fuel sold to licensed wholesalers. Total fuel taxes collected by terminal suppliers on sales of motor fuel to licensed wholesalers is 34.696 cents per gallon.
Continued inflation means these taxes will continue to rise.