HB 745, Trauma Care, and that Senate tax increase.

I’m no fan of tax increases and I’m not a particular fan of the 3.5% surcharge imposed on rental cars that the Senate passed last night. But, given the options, it appears to have been the best option available.

This issue has been around for a while. The state has a legitimate need to fund trauma care. The state was going to go after super speeders with fines, but realized that the majority of people who are super speeders are also the people who are least likely to have the funds to pay. So they’d come up short.

At the end of the day, there were two options — a 3.5% surcharge on rental cars, which will largely affect people coming into Georgia to visit, or H.B. 747, sponsored by John Lunsford and Carl Rogers.

This bill would have added a 20¢ surcharge to all land line phones in Georgia. Bell South was okay with this — probably knowing that more and more people are headed to cell phones and VOIP anyway and those who don’t would be equally stuck. So that appears to be the conundrum facing the Senate last night — either raise taxes on all Georgians with landline phones (still the large majority of citizens) or raise taxes only on those who rent cars.

In reality the state could have done more. It could have allocated the surplus, gutted Sonny’s fish deal and land conservation deal, etc. But everyone passed the buck it seems and the legislators were, at the end of the day, faced with a problem that really needed fixing and two not so good options. They chose the better of two.

So, some folks, including me, can say the Senate voted to raise taxes last night. In reality, it was a vote that most of the GOP voted against. It was also much better than the House’s 20¢ idea.