The following is an editorial written by State Senator John Douglas on the Georgia FairTax.
The “Georgia Fair Tax” & Illegal Immigration
During the course of the 2006 Georgia legislative session, your state House and Senate passed a strong anti illegal immigration measure in Senate Bill (SB) 529. The bill puts the burden on not only those here illegally, but also those who employ them. I was pleased to vote for the bill and enthusiastically support it.
However, illegal immigration continues to be primarily a federal problem. We cannot round up illegals in Georgia and deport them do another state or country. We can also not afford to shut down our state economy by forcing these people out overnight. We didn’t get into this situation overnight and wont get out of it in that time period. Homebuilding, agriculture, chicken processing and carpet production are four areas that would suffer greatly if there was a sudden outflow of Hispanic labor. All of those industries are vital to the economy of our state.
So with that in mind, what are we to do? First, the US government must get control of the border. A continual flood of illegal immigrants negates everything we are trying to do here in Georgia. Secondly, there can be no amnesty for those breaking the law. “Illegal” means just that. No fuzzy areas, no doubt, no waffling on the law. Enforce it.
At the state level, while these illegal immigrants are still here, they continue to use public facilities just as honest taxpayers do. Roads, schools, hospital emergency rooms, parks and other areas suffer wear and tear from everyone, not just American citizens. Unfortunately, under our current tax laws, its only honest American paying for the benefits of our society. That has to change. Those being paid in cash to avoid government scrutiny and income taxes must be brought into the system.
As a result, I am proposing the “Georgia Fair Tax” which would eliminate the state income tax and replace it with a 4-5 cents sales tax. There are two great reasons for the proposal. First, it brings everyone in Georgia into the equation for paying their share of the upkeep of our state. No longer would working for cash exempt you from the taxes honest citizens are paying. No longer would those living within the law carry the financial burden for those outside the law. Everyone, from the illegals to drug dealers to the most honest citizens would immediately begin paying their fair share.
The second reason a Georgia Fair Tax would be important is because it coincides with what Congressman John Linder is doing in Washington. For several years, Linder has worked to eliminate the federal income tax in favor of a national sales tax. What better example for us to set than for him to be able to point to Georgia and tell the country, even my own state has now gone to a fair tax.
The time has come to make this change. Ten states currently have no income tax. Georgia has to become number 11.
However, being a Senator means I can’t introduce the legislation myself. Our Constitution requires all revenue bills begin in the House of Representatives. As a result, what I intend to do is use my Senate position as a “bully pulpit” to push this idea and work to see it implemented. Just as John Linder has encountered steadfast, entrenched bureaucrats in Washington, so too will I in Atlanta. But I intend to keep working and get the idea across to my colleagues at the capitol that the time has come for this and the burden of paying for Georgia has to be shared by all.