Toward a more progressive tax code.

Andy Brack of the Center for a Better South argues that Georgia needs a more “progressive” system of taxation. The Center for a Better South has published a new book called “Doing Better: Progressive Tax Reform for the American South,” which urges southern states to, among other things, tax more services:

Another idea: Even though Georgia’s economy is shifting more toward services, its government only taxes 36 out of 168 services identified by the Federation of Tax Administrators. If it taxed more services, it would reduce hidden preferences given to those services. An example: If a state taxes the purchase of a lawnmower, but doesn’t tax landscaping services that cut people’s lawns, there’s an institutional preference for the service over the good. Taxing the service would make the sales tax fairer – and generate more revenue for the state. With more money from taxed services, the state could lower its overall sales tax rate or invest in state programs and services.

According to Brack, Ways and Means Chair Larry O’Neal is interested in some of the ideas in the Center’s book:

…such as reducing sales tax exemptions for special interests or modernizing income brackets that have been untouched since 1937, could make taxes fairer for many Georgians.

I’m might be in favor of those items, but adding new taxes? Not so much.

There are a number of tax reform proposals floating around, and IIRC, there is a Study Committee examining Georgia’s taxation system as a whole. However, I hope the movement is toward fewer taxes for smaller amounts, not more taxes on more items.


  1. CobbGOPer says:

    How bout a study committee to uncover ways we can CUT SPENDING. Our taxes are already low, the threat of raising them that keeps popping up in discussions is due to the fact that we are always perilously close to over-spending.

    How bout the Republican Party start abiding by its principles…

  2. CobbGOPer says:

    Well let’s hope Sheldon can do something useful. I’m a fan of TABOR.

    Besides, I don’t think anything from the “Center for a Better South” should be taken seriously: the first name on their Board of Advisors is Roy Barnes. The whole group are Dems or mushy Rs.

  3. Mad Dog says:

    How are we using progressive here?

    As in progressive rates compared to regressive rates?

    Wasn’t the income tax levied in such as way that 100 percent of all income taxes were collected from the top one half of one percent of all income earners?

    Or is progressive being used in some way to just mean change?

    Just sort of thinking out loud.

    Boring news day and all that…

    I don’t think many people really want to buy their government services at a full retail price. Or, let their neighbors pick which services are provided. (not everyone has a great neighbor)

    I don’t think the young (over 18 and under … 30?) want the elderly (65 to deathbed) making certain decisions about government services, either.

    Might be very hard to determine what progressive is meant to mean … just like fairness is based on a variety of human perspectives.

  4. Mad Dog says:


    (This is meant as humor)

    Ya think a $9 trillion dollar debt limit is about right?

    (Not being funny now)

    Maybe you’re talking state governments and local political subdivisions?

  5. Overincorporated Fulton says:

    TABOR is insane. Setting the spending ceiling proved a miserable failure in Colorado and resulted in the chronic underfunding of schools, roads, and higher education. It got so bad that Colorado voters chose to lift many of spending caps so that their children weren’t going to school in buildings that are literally falling apart.

    Colorado’s TABOR limited spending growth to formula of population growth plus inflation. What they didn’t consider was that many costs (like higher education, for example) do not grow at the same rate as consumer inflation.

    There’s also the question of what kind of state we want to live in. Right now we have low taxes, decent roads, decent institutions of higher education (that now mostly fund themselves), and mediocre to poor public schools. Cutting any spending at this point seems like we might be putting Georgia at risk of becoming a far less attractive place to live, work, and do business.

  6. buzzbrockway says:


    Nobody’s talking about screwing the schools and roads. TABOR limits the growth of the budget to a more managable rate. As the State and it’s economy grows, so does the government. The devil is in the details, but why should the State budget be allowed to grow unchecked as it does now?

  7. stephaniemills21 says:

    Buzz, aren’t the state legislators and governor supposed to control the growth of the state budget?

  8. Overincorporated Fulton says:


    Go back and read what I wrote. I fully understand that TABOR is about limiting spending growth. The craw in my side, however, is that the cost of many state services increases much faster than say, the price of a gallon of milk, one of the items used to calculate inflation. Details are EVERYTHING…outside of the details, TABOR is just pure, unadulterated ideology that works no better in practice than communism.

    So see, we ARE talking about screwing schools and roads. Taxes are the price we pay for civilization.

    “why should the State budget be allowed to grow unchecked as it does now?”

    The answer to this one is that we have ELECTED legislators who make those decisions. If you don’t like yours, run against him/her. If you lose, you might as well just presume that most people disagree with you, and that they are perfectly fine funding schools and roads and higher education. If you win, then work to cut taxes and spending and watch as Georgia spirals from being 50th in public education to somewhere between Guatemala and the Congo.

    The attitude expressed by your support for TABOR and other mandates like mandatory minumums and term limits (I’m willing to bet you support those too) is a bit worrisome to me because it suggests that you don’t trust the public to make decisions about the legislators and judges who deal with the state budget and sentencing criminals, respectively. You are so distrusting of democracy that you seek to exert your own will over that of democratically elected officials and, by extension, the people.

  9. buzzbrockway says:

    I don’t support term limits but I do support some mandatory minimums. That doesn’t mean I don’t trust Judges, I just think some crimes deserve a minimum amount of jail time. Your statement that I don’t support democracy is correct, as I oppose mob rule and much prefer the representative republic our Founders gave us.

    Perhaps we should do away with the Georgia’s requirement of a balanced budget? Surely the Legislature can be trusted to pay for the bills they vote on…right?

  10. Overincorporated Fulton says:

    I really don’t know Buzz…with your Republicans in control I have a lot of doubts about the ability of the legislature to control its spending…

    A representative Republic if fine…but that’s not what you’re proposing. In a Republic, elected officials make laws and decide budgets. They should not be hamstrung by limits that box in the creativity and lattitude of government to solve problems.

    This has been a popular strategy for the Georgia GOP since it has gained control: attempt to limit the powers of all governments not controlled by the Georgia GOP. Case in point: legislation that forbids local governments to require contractors to pay a living wage. What’s republican about that? If local communities decide to elect legislators who enact legislation to require a minimum wage, isn’t that an example of the republican ideal at work?

  11. buzzbrockway says:

    You’re living wage example demonstrates the difference between our approaches. I want to place limits on the government – you want government to exert more control over businesses.

    Also, your comment about the Georgia GOP wanting to “limit the powers of all governments not controlled by the Georgia GOP” is quite strange. TABOR would control what the Legislature spends, and since the GOP already controls both the House and the Senate, it would be the Republicans controlling themselves.

  12. Overincorporated Fulton says:

    The living wage is NOT an example of government controlling business. When it comes to the question of contracting, the government is a customer, just like you or me. If you or I decided only to hire people who pay a living wage, that would simply be a condition of the market. Service providers would have to meet our requirements to be hired. The same principle applies for the government when it contracts services. It follows then that you seek to limit consumer preferences on the open market by forcing limits on levels of government that your party doesn’t control. Many municipalities (I’ll bet ACC or ATL would be the first) would probably have enacted such requirements if not for the legislature’s interference.

  13. Overincorporated Fulton says:

    Sure, the minimum wage is an example of government exerting control of business. I think (as do the vast majority of Americans) that it is a necessary control, just like anti-trust legislation.

  14. Mad Dog says:


    There are necessary controls. And worthless ones. Harmful ones.

    Imagine flying a modern jet with with the control system used in the original Wright Flyer.

    Not even Hollywood can get that off the ground. TABOR and other ‘automatic’ government plans are pie in your face ideas. It looks like fun when watching black and white films with the Three Stooges or the Marx Brothers, but in real life, it’s a waste of the pie.

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