Some bills Georgia’s legislators should pass before they leave town

 

state-capitol

With one day to go, Georgia’s legislators have already passed or killed many of this year’s most prominent bills. Here are a few others that deserve their approval:

  • Tax reform: A pair of measures by Sen. Judson Hill, R-Marietta, would nudge Georgia toward the kind of tax code Republicans have long extolled. The first would give the state a flat income-tax rate of 5.4 percent, below one of our chief competitors (North Carolina), while eliminating numerous deductions most households don’t claim. If that’s too much to ask, Hill also has a constitutional amendment to push the top rate only as low as 5.8 percent, and only after general revenues and the rainy-day fund crossed certain thresholds.
  • Rural health-care tax credit: A bill by Rep. Geoff Duncan, R-Cumming, would authorize up to $100 million in tax credits for donors to Georgia’s struggling rural health-care providers. The credits would only offset 80 percent of such a gift, so $100 million in credits would yield at least $125 million in new funding for these providers. That could provide just the help they need: Duncan said Tuesday at least one hospital in southeast Georgia stands to have all its debt paid off if the bill passes.
  • MARTA funding: A grand plan to fund an $8 billion rail expansion fell by the wayside, but in its place may have risen something more sound. The compromise bill authored by Rep. Jan Jones, R-Milton, allows Atlanta to move ahead with its transit plans while Fulton, DeKalb and their other cities decide what they really want. This smaller measure would still be the biggest boost for MARTA since its creation.
  • Alcohol regulatory reform: One controversy legislators faced this year was resolved when the Revenue Department agreed to rewrite rules for craft breweries and distilleries that were plainly contrary to a bill passed last year. Despite that good result — which still has to be finalized — these entrepreneurs still face burdensome regulations; at best, we’re tied for 49th with Mississippi. A study committee before next year’s session could identify measures to free up these small businesses. A bid by Rep. Michael Caldwell, R-Woodstock, to create such a committee was co-signed by a majority of the body but nonetheless is buried in the process. A final-day agreement to let it pass isn’t impossible and ought to happen.
  • Welfare reform: Georgia lags the nation in making smart welfare reforms. A bill by Sen. Hunter Hill, R-Atlanta, would go a long way toward improving that. It would tighten some lifetime limits on benefits, but other changes might be counterintuitive for some fiscal conservatives. One is creating a “cash diversion” program so, for example, a single mother whose car breaks down can afford to repair it rather than missing work and losing her job — putting her family in line for a range of welfare benefits that would quickly cost the state more. Another would ease the financial disincentive for low-income couples to marry, which saves the state money in the short run but costs more over time.

Pass all these, and what’s been derided as a do-nothing session will gain a large measure of redemption.

Reader Comments 0

58 comments
ODDOWL-1
ODDOWL-1

The Georgia state Legislature should decriminalize marijuana and legalize medical marijuana...

RoadScholar
RoadScholar

How much does that tax rollback cost Georgians in the budget? And you are for it even though the repubs want a special session if Deal vetoes the faith act? I know they have said it would only be used if state revenues exceed the needs....So when are they going to either cancel the fees for tires and other purchases or actually use them for the purpose in the laws already passed. And that does not include balancing the budget !

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

@RoadScholar

Cost?

Tax cuts don't "cost" Georgians, they save money for Georgians (the ones who pay taxes, anyway).

You're still free to help out with a generous donation to those charities that help out where you mistakenly believe the taxpayer should be forced to fund something.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@EastATLGuy @RoadScholar


You watched the magicians wrong hand. 

1. Ballot measure caps income tax at 6%. Who are the winners and losers?

2. Gas tax is raised? Winners and losers?

3. Future plan to lower income taxes and raise sales/user taxes? W's and L's?


Research it, study it, explain it, and then state your preference - but please be honest enough to say whether you will benefit from your measure at the expense of others.

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

Any update? So did any of these get pass? I heard about the rape test kits and campus carry with stun guns. 

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@McGarnagle The MARTA bill passed, and a more limited version of the rural health-care bill passed very late last night. The others did not.

I am not really surprised the tax bills and beer bill didn't pass. I was disappointed the welfare bill didn't; it was on the House calendar, but they skipped over it all day for reasons I was never able to fully uncover. I *think* it may have been held up as bargaining leverage for a couple of House bills the Senate never put on the floor. But I don't know that for sure.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@McGarnagle Politics is inherently confrontational. When the other party can't put up enough of a fight, you start fighting among yourselves. See, e.g., what happened nationally with the Blue Dog Democrats in 2009-10.

patriot61
patriot61

Kyle,

Why don't you talk about HB 941 and the GAG Act?

The ‪#‎HB941‬ Unconstitutional, “No Justice” bill passed the Senate Judiciary Non-Civil Committee Tuesday night (3/15) at a 7pm hearing. While some changes based solely on our testimony were implemented to improve the Senate substitute bill ( LC 29 7111ERS) , it retained a whole set of new law enforcement double standards that violate equal protection clauses in the Georgia and U.S. Constitutions. It was asked that legislative counsel go on record to tell us if the committee substitute bills were constitutional, Chairman Stone refused to allow Legislative Counsel Jill Travis to comment on record with the cameras rolling. Here is the clip:
https://vimeo.com/159159761

Read more here: 

http://email.indefenseofliberty.tv/t/ViewEmail/r/E7AF4F005B5550362540EF23F30FEDED/7BB3ED7F8D8AF1B114399806BE9B4083


HB941 and any language added to a bill that restricts freedom of speech should be voted down.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@patriot61 I can only personally follow so many bills during the session. This is one I didn't have the bandwidth to follow in the kind of detail it would have required. 

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

A  .6% decrease in the income tax = $6 per $1,000.

If you make $30k per year you save   $180

If you make $500k per year you save $3,000

Please correct my math if I'm wrong.


Soooo, Most senior citizens are exempt from GA income tax but not the new gas tax that they pay for at the pump and increased price of goods transported.


How many senior citizens does it take to pay extra gas taxes so the rich person making $500K can save $3,000?


Classic republican tax policy-reduce taxes for the wealthy and make the poor and middle class pay more.

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

@AvgGeorgian

As far as I know, the bill wouldn't raise gas taxes on the elderly or anyone else.

You conveniently ignore that certain deductions would be eliminated, offsetting the rate reduction.  And you also ignore the dynamic effects of the tax cuts.

Next.

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

@AvgGeorgian

No one deserves tax relief more than the people who pay the state's bills.

And that ain't the guy making $30K a year.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@Lil_Barry_Bailout @AvgGeorgian


You missed the bait and switch Lil'baba. The gas tax has already been raised - I suspect you and I will be funding this tax cut for the wealthy. 


You also do not seem to realize that most wealthy people benefit more from public services than less wealthy.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@Lil_Barry_Bailout @AvgGeorgian


Haha! I just saw your "dynamic effects of the tax cuts". Good ol' trickle down. So funny - so lowering the income and sales tax to 1% would create such a "dynamic" boost that we would have a veritable cash cornucopia here in GA?

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

You have to be rather ignorant to deny that dynamic effects exist. But that's today's Democrat.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@Lil_Barry_Bailout

They do not pay more. Your visit to the doctor's office costs you more due to the gas tax to improve transportation infrastructure. So your doctor benefits from each patient but does not share her/his benefit in relation to cost of infrastructure. He/she gets a big tax break and you pay the extra taxes.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@Lil_Barry_Bailout I have no political affiliation unless it is Pragmatist. Please convince me that that this "dynamic effect" works I will be glad to side with you. Please show your math.

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

Now you're just posting nonsense.

Envy is eating away at your thought processes.

EastATLGuy
EastATLGuy

@AvgGeorgian


"Classic republican tax policy-reduce taxes for the wealthy and make the poor and middle class pay more."

You do have the freedom to move out of this red state if you wish. No one is forcing you to live here. If you don't like the way things are run in GA...leave. 

EastATLGuy
EastATLGuy

@AvgGeorgian @EastATLGuy


Yes, considering that you're bashing a red state and red state policies. Go live in a blue state like Illinois or Maryland and get back to us. I've lived in states like that I can can assure you that you'd change your tune real quick. 

Math? Lil Barry already refuted your "math" by pointing out the facts that you left out. Folks like always seem to do that when screaming and crying about things that 'ain't fair" to you. 

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@AvgGeorgian "Please correct my math if I'm wrong."

Your math is too simplistic. It doesn't account for the flattening of brackets, elimination of certain deductions that upper-income households are more likely to claim, and increases in personal exemptions that are relatively more beneficial to lower-income households. So, no, your math is not correct.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@AvgGeorgian Every economist, I think, agrees there are *some* dynamic effects. They argue over the size of them, and whether they make any particular measure worthwhile. Certainly, no "pragmatic" economist would deny they exist at all.

gapeach101
gapeach101

Kyle, you have to make a boatload of money to eliminate deductions on the federal return. How exactly do the personal exemptions benefit lower income households?   Sure, $3,000 per person helps,it results in $180 tax savings .  That's a whole lot less than the $65,000 deduction for each individual  old fart.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@Kyle_Wingfield @AvgGeorgian

That seems silly, basically saying that all changes have effects - of course they do. The discussion of the effects are worthless without knowledge of the effects' direction and magnitude. might as well say "tax cuts do something, I'm just not sure how much, or if it's good".

C_Casselberry
C_Casselberry

@Lil_Barry_Bailout Your definition of productive. Buy a company, kill the jobs, ship the business over to Vietnam, collect your big bonus. Yea, you're a job creator - in Vietnam. Tell you what, you trade with Jose there, you pick peaches and cut lawns while he sits on his derriere and enjoys his dividend income. 

skruorangeclown
skruorangeclown

MARTA-  Repubs up North try to confine it to only city of Atlanta since we really don't want certain folks traveling to other mostly white cities. God forbid greateer  Atlanta has a functioning mass transit system for the entire metropolitan area like other major cities. Why not have MARTA cut off all transit North of Sandy Springs and Doraville?

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

@lvg

Repubs up North, down South, over on the East, and out West realize that MARTA is a waste of money because so few people want to use it.

Keep your race-based thinking to yourself.  You're angry rhetoric isn't helping anything.

EastATLGuy
EastATLGuy

@lvg


Marta has, and never will, work because of how Atlanta is built. Cry racism all you want but until that city fixes it's own problems don't blame Cobb Co etc. 

Cobbian
Cobbian

1) Forget the tax reform.  All that does is create the shift of taxes to those who don't have the money, increasing the poverty of those already poor.  Don't put limits on the top tax rate that leave GA unable to respond to changing times and needs.  We did better when tax rates were even higher.  When are folks going to get it that reducing taxes does not create jobs, does not create an economy that allows for growth in income and opportunity?  It hasn't worked since the sainted Reagan tried it - "trickle down" doesn't trickle down, but increases concentration of wealth at the top.  All this does is continue the concentration of wealth at the top.  


2) Rural health care tax credit.  This is a job for the state government to do.  If our health care is in such a poor state, then raise the taxes to improve the health care.  You can't shift a government responsibility to the private sector through "tax credits".  Government needs to do its own job.


3) Pass funding for Marta in whatever way it can get done this year, but that doesn't let the state off the hook for what needs to be done.  Cowards are just putting it off.


4) Alcohol regularatory reform - go ahead and say it, Wingfield.  The legislators have been bought off by the big money distributors and have made it difficult for entrepreneurs to have entry to this market place - thwarting one of the requirements of a true capitalist market, limiting the opportunity for new businesses to develop.  The legislature should do whatever they can this year but need to be called out on their abysmal performance on this so far so they open that market next year.



5) Welfare reform - this is all playing around the real problem.  There is a terrible lack of opportunity for people in this state to get jobs that let them buy food, clothing, shelter.  Do this messing around, but just know that it is not really addressing the problem.


Here is a don't do this:


That bill to guarantee a minimum fee for insurance agents is so anti-free market it just boggles the mind.  The only guarantee that is even reasonable to think about is one that guarantees them the same minimum hourly wage for their work as the burger flippers at the local McDonalds.  


Here is an add:


Get those rape kits into the hands of the GBI and out of the hands of the apparently careless and clueless police agencies.  Women deserve better and certainly women who have been raped deserve better than what has been done.  


Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@Cobbian

1) The bit about the shifting tax burden is overly simplistic, as I mentioned above.

"Don't put limits on the top tax rate that leave GA unable to respond to changing times and needs."

Too late, we passed a constitutional amendment to limit it to 6%.

" We did better when tax rates were even higher."

As far as I know, Georgia's top income tax rate has never been higher than 6%.

" When are folks going to get it that reducing taxes does not create jobs, does not create an economy that allows for growth in income and opportunity?  It hasn't worked since the sainted Reagan tried it - "trickle down" doesn't trickle down, but increases concentration of wealth at the top.  All this does is continue the concentration of wealth at the top. "

Job growth was far stronger under Reagan, adjusted for population, was one of the strongest periods since the end of WW2, and stronger than anything that's come since then: http://kylewingfield.blog.myajc.com/2016/03/04/current-job-growth-streak-is-long-but-not-very-strong/

2) "This is a job for the state government to do."

Why is it the responsibility of the state to ensure local health care? What does that even mean? Should every city and town have its own full-service hospital? Does it depend on how large they are? Who decides which communities get left out? How should that be paid for, given there are also challenges in urban areas? Once again, your answer is too simplistic.

3) "that doesn't let the state off the hook for what needs to be done"

Same questions as above, just substitute "transit." Is the MARTA board composed of "cowards," since they asked for local funding streams rather than a state one?

4) "go ahead and say it, Wingfield"

I have said that, on several occasions.

5)  "this is all playing around the real problem.  There is a terrible lack of opportunity for people in this state to get jobs that let them buy food, clothing, shelter. "

And your solution is ... raise taxes?

I agree about the insurance bill, which died, and the rape-kit bill, which passed.

Aquagirl
Aquagirl

What about the rape kit bill?

TicTacs
TicTacs

GA needs more revenue to provide the services,  taxes should be progressive.  There are dirt roads that ride better....

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

@Jefferson1776

People need to grow up and stop being leeches.  Provide your own services.  And if you still want to help, do stroke a generous check to your favorite charities.  Walk your talk.

EastATLGuy
EastATLGuy

@Jefferson1776


" taxes should be progressive."

Ok, I'll bite. Please explain what that means and how it would help GA. I'm gonna go out on a limb and predict you'll say 'raise taxes" etc. Am I right?