Floridians Pay at the Pump For DeSantis’s Politics
June 13, 2022
Instead of working to lower gas prices, Ron DeSantis is doing his part to make sure they stay high – at least until he can try and score some political points ahead of his election. Yup, that’s right – Ron DeSantis is making Floridians wait for a break on taxes until it’s politically advantageous for him. At a time when Floridians are already facing skyrocketing housing prices and some of the most expensive health care costs in the country, Ron DeSantis is proving he’s willing to force Floridians to struggle a bit more and pay higher gas prices just to score political points.
Seeking Rents Newsletter: Ron DeSantis proposed delaying a tax break for Florida drivers until it was most helpful to his re-election campaign
By Jason Garcia
Late last year, with gas prices rapidly rising across the country, Gov. Ron DeSantis promised that help was on the way for Floridians struggling to fill up their tanks.
In a pair of press conferences staged a few days before Thanksgiving, DeSantis announced that he was going to ask the Florida Legislature to cut the state’s gas tax for roughly five months — a 27-cents-a-gallon tax break that DeSantis said would save the average Florida family nearly $200.
“We need to do this relief for people because they’re getting pinched at the pump,” DeSantis told television reporters and others assembled at a Daily’s gas station in Jacksonville.
“Some people said, ‘Why don’t you just do something for a month or two?’” the governor added. “And I was like, ‘No, we’ve got to do it longer than that.’ So this’ll be for many months.”
But just nine days later, emails show that DeSantis actually asked the Legislature to cut the gas tax for just one month — and not to do it until October 2022.
So now Floridians are being forced to wait six months before the state steps in with any help on gas prices…which just hit yet another record high.
Let’s turn back the clock for a moment: Going into this year’s legislative session, Ron DeSantis made a roughly five-month gas-tax holiday a centerpiece of his public agenda. He promoted it in press conferences, baked it into his proposed budget, and trumpeted it in his State of the State speech.
But then…lawmakers just seemed to ignore him. Neither the House nor the Senate included any gas-tax holiday at all in early drafts of their own budgets. It became a data point in mid-session stories about tension between the governor and legislative leaders.
And then, lo and behold, a few days before the end of session and with no prior public debate, the House and Senate suddenly announced a deal: They were going to do a gas-tax holiday, but only for one month and not until October.
Legislative leaders insisted it was their idea and not the governor’s. Senate Budget Chair Kelli Stargel (R-Lakeland) claimed that they chose October because that was one of the two months of the year (along with May) with the fewest tourists. “It had nothing to do with the election,” she said.
Except now we know from public-records that DeSantis’ office suggested the October-only holiday.
What’s more, the entire public premise for this decision — that October is a particularly low month for tourism in Florida — appears to be bunk.
In the Times’ story, Mower reported that Senate officials were unable to provide any evidence to support that claim. But he dug up a lot of data himself, including through subsequent reporting, suggesting that there are several lower-tourism months on the calendar.
One of those months is September, which is, as any reputable calendar will tell you, sooner than October.
But alas, September is not when polls open in the governor’s race.