Florida gas prices top national average as state legislature mulls tax break

Price per gallon of regular averages $4.32 in US, $4.35 in Florida, AAA says

ORLANDO, Fla. – Thursday marks the third day in a row Florida has broken its all-time record for gas prices, soaring from $4.06 for a gallon of regular on March 7 to now $4.35 on average, higher than the national average of $4.32, according to auto club AAA.

The quick rise has reignited interest in the Florida legislature’s plan to include Gov. Ron DeSantis’ proposed gas tax break in the state budget, first announced in November 2021 as a five-to-six month suspension of the state’s now 26.5-cent gas tax to be subsidized by $1 billion in federal stimulus money.

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Over time, talks stalled among Florida Republican lawmakers over concerns that out-of-state visitors would be able to take greater advantage of the tax break than Floridians. A compromise in the form of far shorter gas tax holidays was devised, but as Florida has now set its personal record for gas prices three times in a single week, the latest from the legislature suggests that Floridians motorists could have to wait until October — shortly before midterm elections — to get a 1-month gas tax break.

Now planned to utilize $200 million in federal stimulus funds, the tax break would come at a time with typically lower numbers of tourists in town, according to Florida Senate President Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby.

“The budget will not go into effect until July ... so the only other month that we could do that in was October. I think it’s a great opportunity. We don’t know if gas will be at $4.50 a gallon or $8 a gallon by then, but it’s certainly something that we believe that most Floridians would agree with,” Simpson said Wednesday.

Rising inflation and the war in Ukraine are impossible to ignore when having a discussion about how the record-shattering gas prices came to be, and as far as what remedies are available in the short-term, gas tax breaks have emerged as a popular potential in many states.

Republican lawmakers in Michigan and Pennsylvania this week announced their own proposals to hold or cut down on their respective state-level gas taxes in the wake of President Biden’s ban on Russian oil imports, with Democrat governors of at least six states sending a joint letter to congress calling for the suspension of the federal government’s 18.4-cent gas tax through 2022. The specific legislation advocated for in the letter was introduced in the U.S. House and Senate by Arizona Democrats in February, dubbed the “Gas Prices Relief Act of 2022.”

Florida’s more-than $100 billion budget is expected to be finalized Thursday.

Use the interactive map below to see the latest average regular gas prices in Florida for most counties:

About the Author:

Brandon, a UCF grad, joined the ClickOrlando team in November 2021. Before joining News 6, Brandon worked at WDBO.