DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — You've probably groaned lately as you pulled into a gas station to see the price to fuel up your car has gone up — again. Data collected by GasBuddy shows gas is $1.31 per gallon higher than it was this time last year.
Floridians may soon be able to save a little more at the pump if the governor's proposal gains approval. Gov. Ron DeSantis announced during a press conference Monday that he is proposing more than $1 billion in gas tax relief for the state during the upcoming legislative session.
"This is really, really serious," DeSantis said in reference to the rise in goods Americans are seeing.
The increase in the price of everyday goods has been tied to supply chain issues that are fueled by impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic and shortages in roles like truck drivers.
To help combat the rise, DeSantis' proposed tax relief would take 25 cents off at the pump — as long as it's passed by the Florida Legislature and as long as gas stations comply.
"We have folks that are getting hammered by the rising gas prices and so, we're here to do something about it," DeSantis said.
Buc-ee's has already agreed to drop prices if the proposal passes during the legislative session. It's something the governor says many other companies across the state have also verbally promised to do.
“I’m confident that people understand that it’s a good idea and the consumer will see some relief," he said.
And should a gas station not be on board for the change, DeSantis hinted to it being a competitive market with Floridians having the option of going across the street to fuel up somewhere that is onboard with the plan.
Earlier this month, Democratic Rep. Charlie Crist, who is also running for governor, called on DeSantis to freeze Florida's gas tax for the holiday season.
"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," Crist said, in part, earlier this year.
It's a sentiment he still appears to hold. His office called the governor's announcement an effort to continue to "kick the can down the road" when it comes to providing relief to Florida's working families.
“Governor DeSantis is a day late and a dollar short. Last week’s not-so-special session should have addressed this issue instead of focusing on making COVID easier to spread. As a result, in the best case Floridians will be waiting months for any reduction in gas taxes," Crist said in a statement.
As for where the money is going to come from to counteract the loss of tax revenue? DeSantis says Florida is in "great financial shape" and has a surplus that will allow the state to "do what we need to do."
No further information was provided in terms of what that surplus is. 10 Tampa Bay reached out to the governor's office for clarity and was told the details of the proposal will be included in the budget recommendations submitted to the legislature in December.
"The gas tax relief will be fully funded because our economy is thriving, thanks to Florida’s common-sense, business-friendly policies. As Governor DeSantis mentioned, the state has robust reserves to draw on if needed," a spokesperson wrote.
When President Joe Biden signed his $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill into law, Florida, like other states, got a large payout.
The Sunshine State is set to receive around $13 billion in federal funds to repair its aging highways and $2.6 billion over five years for improvements to public transportation, per a White House fact sheet.
The governor said the gas tax relief will not impact the state's work program aimed at supporting infrastructure updates, adding that a fully-funded program will be in the budget.
"I don't think we're gonna miss a beat," DeSantis said.
The upcoming Florida legislative session begins in January.