Georgia Senate Study Committee Discusses TABOR

From the Gwinnett Daily Post:

A House study committee headed by Rep. Donna Sheldon, R-Dacula, met several times last year to consider whether Georgia should adopt a Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights modeled after a law in Colorado. Under TABOR, tax increases are limited to the rate of inflation plus population growth.

However, the momentum driving the issue in Georgia was blunted last fall when Colorado voters narrowly approved a referendum temporarily suspending the TABOR law because of its effects on the state’s ability to deliver services.

On Thursday, Kevin Fillion, director of the Senate’s Budget and Evaluation Office, presented statistics showing that Georgia budgets during the past 20 years have outstripped both inflation and the state’s rapid population growth.

Even adjusting for inflation, the average tax burden on Georgians has increased in the last 20 years from $1,200 per person to $1,700 per person, Fillion said. “That, to me, is the key figure, “said Sen. Chip Rogers, R-Woodstock, another member of the study committee.

7 comments

  1. midgajim says:

    Remember the 90s when the state was spending money like a bunch of drunken sailors, like the terribly expensive bronze statue of a donkey (I think there’s another name for that animal) at the “national fair grounds” in Perry?

  2. kspencer says:

    Let’s see. 20 years ago we didn’t have a cap of 25 students per teacher. 20 years ago our prison population was half of today’s (proportional to the total – and taxed – population).

    If you want stuff you have to pay for it. That the amount’s “only” increased from 1200 to 1700 is surprising.

    One more thing… I don’t believe the numbers. That is, according to Fillion the per capita tax burden 20 years ago was $1200. The more-or-less 3% inflation constant of the past 20 years means that the real per capita tax burden today is $3,400. (Inflation’s roughly doubled everything, so $1700 becomes $3400).

    Between income tax, sales tax, and miscellaneous other fees, we pay an estimated 7.5% of our income to the state. Median household income for the state is ~$42,000. There are approximately 2.5 people per household, which is a per capita rate of $16,800. 7.5% of that is $1,260, or almost a third of what Fillion’s reported. In fact, for Fillion’s number to be right given median income and census reported population/household, the state tax burden from all sources has to be closer to 20%.

    I do not pay 50% of my paycheck to the governments under which I live, and I can’t think of anyone who pays that much either. So I really mistrust Fillion’s numbers.

    Bias – I lived under Colorado’s TABOR for a while. I didn’t like it. I’ve discussed this before, and before I’ll approve a Georgia version it’s got to account for a lot of the problems Colorado’s version had.

  3. MountainDawg says:

    TABOR scares the living daylights out of a lot of politicians, liberals, Democrats, and even a lot of the “mushy middle” Republicans. It is a tool, however, for politicians that don’t have the fortitude and courage to say “NO”. Everybody wants everything and even Republicans have continued to allow the state budget to skyrocket. You can’t promise ALL teachers 4 % payraises (and over 50% qualified for the 7 % step increase) and they are still griping because they didn’t get enough and may still not vote for Perdue. When are politicians going to quit trying to buy votes and implement the conservative principles that they actually ran on. TABOR may save all of us from the very ones we help elect!

  4. kspencer says:

    MountainDawg,

    The problem with Colorado’s TABOR is that it was what I call an “iron” rule. No slack, no give. The problem with Iron Rules is that we’re not Iron People. We’re flesh. We squish, we shift, we move. And unless the Iron is carefully crafted to cope with our humanity, it chafes and binds and cuts.

    Every TABOR I’ve seen proposed fails to account for our humanity. As a result it’ll inevitably chafe, bind, and cut. Which means we’ll either patch or revoke it. In Colorado, they revoked it because the defenders of TABOR refused to allow patches. I expect folk to wind up passing a TABOR here, and I expect it’ll not be carefully crafted. I recommend that the defenders of it take heed and tolerate patches lest it follow Colorado’s path.

  5. Briardawg says:

    Let it be known that the Senate Study Committee was not looking at TABOR, but at TEL’s in general.

  6. Harry says:

    An improved TEL (tax and expenditure limitation) is badly needed because of inability of government to control spending, and as a way for taxpayers to monitor their elected representatives aka politicians. School district spending in particular often exceeds combined growth in student population and inflation.

    However, a TEL needs to be well designed or it will prove ineffective. In some states they have simply “gamed the system” as one commentary described it. This source (http://www.texaspolicy.com/pdf/2004-08-TEL.pdf) recommends:
    1) A TEL should be constitutional rather than statutory
    2) Cap should be applied to 100% of the budget rather than certain categories
    3) Spending should be capped, rather than revenue or taxes
    4) Should limit spending to the growth of population plus inflation rather than to the growth of personal income
    5) Should require voter approval for its provisions to be circumvented
    6) Should apply to both state and local governments and should allow for transfer of responsibility to local governments and provide for the appopriate adjustments in each jurisdiction’s limits
    7) Should be self-contained within the constitution; ie not require additional action by the legislature for implementation
    8) Should give taxpayers standing to sue to enforce its provisions and require injunctive relief to prohibit any additional taxes or spending while the suit is pending.

  7. Emily says:

    I am not sure how you calculated per capita taxes up there but here are the numbers – In 1981, total state and local per capita taxes were around $1690. In 2002, total state and local per capita taxes were $2816. That is a 67% increasee in 21 years which is the highest increase in the south (besides NC)

    Also – Georgia collects $98 in state and local taxes per $1000 of personal income ($37 in state taxes, about $61 in local taxes). Which ranks us about 4th in the southern states.

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