44 comments

  1. Rusty says:

    I’m not going to insert myself into the conversation about the pluses or minuses of this proposal, but the final part is an excellent point:

    Entrepreneurship is so very scary for those of us who

  2. eehrhart says:

    Interesting comment…..Just a question.

    So under the plan a Georgia Teacher who makes half the salary of those included in Sonny’s plan, and is not subsidized should have her tax money pay for this individuals Health coverage?

    Teacher benefits are not state subsidized like the governors office is claiming by the way. The average HMO policy for a teacher is 285.00 per month. The decent price is the result of a large group policy as with all other insureds. To claim that a benefit like health insurance is subsidized for teachers is to insult them vis a vis what we pay them anyway.

    Why not create a tax credit for all uninsureds with the 650 million dollars a year Sonny is socking away in reserve?

    Then this will not be an entitlement and will apply equally to all taxpayers.

  3. eehrhart says:

    By the way…..first we leave teachers and state employees out of peach care telling them their kids are not as deserving, and now they are left out of this??

  4. Chris says:

    I just left my cushy full time job to “strike out on my own”. I’m paying under $75/mo for health insurance.

  5. SpaceyG says:

    Chris, that’s great, but if you ever came down with more than a boo-boo on your knee that required only one Band-Aid, and I certainly hope you never do, you can expect to see a wild and dramatic shift upward in that sweet little monthly bill.

  6. Romegaguy says:

    I am willing to bet that Snuggles Jones has a better shot of winning the US Senate race next year than this plan has of passing the legislature.

  7. Rogue109 says:

    Yeah, I’ve got to agree with Chris Farris: I, too, am out on my own and paying only $175 a month for coverage that will make sure I’m covered even if I have more than a “boo-boo.”

    But, SpaceyG, how about just cutting taxes on small businesses, instead?

  8. SpaceyG says:

    Someone call 911 for Demonbeck. I would myself, but entrepreneurship in GA has forced me to cut all utilities. I’m living in a tent outside of Starbucks for the free wi-fi.

  9. eehrhart says:

    An interesting exercise is searching “affordable health insurance” on the net. The hits are in the thousands.

    When you get quotes for a family of four they run the gamut from Chris’s 75 per month to around 800 per month for very low deduct plans. The average is around 350 for most policies.

    These are policies from reputable insurers also like th Blue and Cigna.

  10. Icarus says:

    Chris, Rogue,

    I had the same low-cost plan when I first went self employed. Then I turned 30. Over about 7 years, I went from about $80/month to almost $500/month, and only met a deductable once.

  11. SpaceyG says:

    Let’s see… my latest property tax bill says I saved several hundred smackeroos this year “as a result of homeowner’s tax relief enacted by the Governor and the General Assembly of Georgia.” Funny, it was still as much or more than the previous year’s bill. That cutting taxes thing never seems to really trickle down to anything remotely resembling “affordable.” So I’m for anything targeted specifically towards healthcare this go-round. Besides, how many start-up businesses, in the first year or so, even make enough income to pay taxes at all? It doesn’t help with the price of a healthcare policy that can fluctuate wildly.

  12. Rogue109 says:

    Icarus: Good grief, that IS a lot! But I’m 32 going on 33. Maybe you should check some other plans? I do note eehrhart’s comments about prices for other plans, though.

    Still no takers on the argument that maybe this is a good reason to cut taxes…oh, well!

  13. CobbGOPer says:

    Tax cuts, not subsidies, are the way to go. I agree with Chairman Erhart here, but will King Sonny relinquish his death grip on the reserves? Doubtful, seeing as he lied to us all in order to scuttle the House’s tax cuts during the last session.

    I hope Mr. Erhart, Speaker Richardson, and the rest of the House Caucus remembers that when Sonny tries to push this through the General Assembly next year.

  14. eehrhart says:

    Spacey….how right you are, and how appropriate that you mention the tax bill. The tax relief given through General Assembly action is eaten up by the back door assesments of local governments. Yes you pay more in that shell game and it is a shame.

    This is an elequent case for doing away with property taxes in favor of only those taxes that you can see coming.

  15. Icarus says:

    I’ll again stipulate that this is an area well beyond my expertise, so I won’t try to argue the details. I will, however, commend both the governor and Rep Ehrhart for engaging in this debate. Too many Republicans equate “no insurance” to “no job”. With Republican economic policies rightfully fostering small business development, more and more of us don’t have GM or IBM’s benefits anymore.

    If we don’t find a way to ensure health care insurance is affordable and accessable, Hillary will do it for us.

  16. SpaceyG says:

    Heh heh Rogue, good one. But all the schoolin’ in the world doesn’t help explain the deception and the double-speak of a tax bill that tells you in black and white (see quote somewhere above) that your taxes have actually been cut, but to go ahead and pay more now.

  17. Icarus says:

    Rogue,

    It’s a Blue Cross PPO. I raised the deductable to $1500 and my co-pay to $30/visit, and now it’s a more “reasonable” $275/month.

    Point is, as you get older, the costs go up, and you’re moving up the age charts at the same time. It’s a double whammy.

    I had the pleasure of trying to secure insurance for my mother, age 61, with minor pre-existing conditions. Try a starter plan for $800/month that was over $1200/month after 2 years.

    This is a problem for people with jobs, not just those too lazy to work or those who made bad choices.

  18. LoyaltyIsMyHonor says:

    Chris Rogue, I’m assuming you both have individual policies, meaning you’re not part of a group. This is bad because your rates are not regulated and are actually experience rated. That is the more claims you make, the higher your premium will rise. Also, your premium will rise with age. Make too many claims, and it’s possible your insurer will drop you, or your policy will be unaffordable. Finally, someone with a pre-existing condition, will pay a much higher premium.

  19. SpaceyG says:

    Talking more about this issue, critical as it is, would eventually require me to reveal my age, to of course explain why my h/c insurance payments might be just a tad more than Ic’s or Rogue’s. Self-preservation before politics! I am soooo outta here…

  20. Good topic SG:

    Wonder what comments the Hugo Chavez heating oil subsidy debaters will chime in with?

    Eehrhart, do you consider a Health Care Insurer that pays it’s executives upwards of a half a BILLION dollars in personal compensation reputable?
    They are nothing more than Dictatorships and you are their captives.

    Chris et al, what are your age brackets & deductibles? Please do us a public service and let us know what company will provide legitimate primary care health insurance for $75 per month.

    thanks

  21. Earl,

    I paid $220,900 for my house and it is currently assessed for $218,000. Seems pretty fair. My estimated taxes are just about exactly what the realtor/lender estimated they’d be. One of the only things they were right about, btw.

    I noticed that your house was assessed for $300,260 for the years 2001-2004. And that it “jumped” to $396,970 in 2005 and remained there in 2006. Now, $300 -> $396 seems like a big jump for one year, but I’m certain the value was going up in ’02, ’03 and ’04 even though Cobb did not reassess.

    In fact, over the 5 year period 2001-2006, going from $300K to $396K is only a 5.7% annual increase, seems pretty tame when you consider how much some of the property values in metro Atlanta have shot up.

    Now, is $396K really a “back door assessment?” I looked on Lexis Nexus, one of your neighbors bought a house up the street this March for $414,500 — and that house is only assessed for $334,910. On the free market it sold for nearly $80,000 more than that “sneaky” back door assessor thought it was worth.

    Another neighbor paid over $500,000 for their house way back in 2003 and it is only assessed for $285,000. So yeah, those back door assessments are really sticking it to you.

    I wish Republicans would just be honest about property taxes. They don’t want to pay them because they don’t think they should pay more to live in a more expensive house (or when they sell more stock, or make a higher salary, drive a nicer car, etc). When you actually look at the facts, there is usually no evidence to support the idea that there is some sort of local government conspiracy to tax people for more than what their house is worth, assessors usually do a good job of keeping up with the market; when they don’t 99 times out of 100 they are a little bit behind it.

    Earl, the millage rates in Cobb and DeKalb are a lot higher than they are in Appling and Early counties. If you think Appling, Early etc have a great thing going as far as fewer government services and spending less per pupil on schools, how about you move there instead of trying to force their levels of government down my throat in metro Atlanta by removing my county’s ability to set its own tax rate?

  22. SouthFultonGuy says:

    I am posting here because Andre Walker keeps deleting the expose on him on his BLOG:

    Andre has committed the unforgivable for a BLOG owner. After 15+ dissenting comments on The SF Study that contested his viewpoint, he deleted them and turned off the ability to add comments.
    http://georgiaunfiltered.blogspot.com/2007/08/city-of-south-fulton-is-financially.html#comment-7375443688775446730I guess the next step is he will start moderating comments again.

    Undoubtedly he got heat from South Fulton Concerned Citizen

  23. eehrhart says:

    Chris thank you for making my point. Taxes which you have no vote in setting are bad today and they were bad during our founding days. reference the tea party.

    You make the point by showing the disaparity and unequal nature of neighbors tax rates. Everyone should be treated equally. Simple concept.

    And yes they are still back door as any citizen is subject to the whim of the assesor. Try making a claim for relief.

    Also yes ,a 5.7 % increase in my taxes or anyone elses is too much when the government is rolling in tax money.

    I am advocating we let the people make this decision as they should. What makes you fear their judgement? It is in the constitution so it cannot be done by statute, but only by referendum.

  24. CobbGOPer says:

    “Also yes ,a 5.7 % increase in my taxes or anyone elses is too much when the government is rolling in tax money.”

    See: King Sonny’s $650 million reserve fund.

  25. Paul Shuford says:

    I think the biggest problem with healthcare in this country now is that it is primarily employer-based. Making insurance employer-based is the main reason we have so many uninsured, because the economics of offering health insurance works out well for large and some medium sized companies, but, for small businesses, it just doesn’t work out. Not only that, but you’re beholden to your employer for all of your healthcare, in an environment where employees are changing jobs every few years and periods of unemployment during a job change isn’t out of the ordinary.

    What needs to be done is putting health insurance in the hands of individuals instead of employers – giving individuals the tax breaks/credits/etc. instead of employers. The competition in the market would increase substantially, and this would bring prices down significantly. Just helping employers, yet again, instead of individuals won’t reduce the number of uninsured significantly because the lack of competition and the increased costs associated with it.

  26. Doug Deal says:

    Paul,

    Saddly that logic just seems to fall on deaf ears. The single biggest mistake in healthcare that was ever made was coupling healthcare with employment, yet every “solution” seems to be directed to the business or government level, instead of the individual.

  27. LiveFreeOrDie says:

    I pay $110 a month for my own health insurance and I get more than a widdle band-aid. I had two surgeries this year and I see an allergist once a week and receive two shots each week. At $110 a month, it’s less than my cell phone bill. Call the waaaambulance!

  28. Andre Walker says:

    Let me interrupt your discussion on health care policy and taxes to raise a question…

    …Does anyone here really care about my political affiliations?

    That is all.

    You may now return to your regularly scheduled discussion.

  29. GOPeach says:

    Just 2 things:

    (1) Where in the Constitution does it say that the tax payers must provide healthcare to the public?

    (2) Could this be a move by the governor AKA Vice President 08 to get the blue vote? hummm

  30. Romegaguy says:

    Just to stir the pot a little…

    1) Where in the Constitution does it say that taxpayers must NOT provide healthcare to the public?

    2) Snuggles Jones has a better shot of being US Senator than Sonny does of being VP candidate.

  31. Romegaguy says:

    3) I might be inclined to lean towards letting the state control the dividing up of state sales taxes amongst cities and counties IF the Governor wasnt able to tell state departments and agencies to ignore legislative intent or language used in the state budget as passed by the General Assembly. Mr. Chairman does a plan exist to correct this problem?

  32. eehrhart says:

    Rome guy….I think you can safely assume that redirects will be addressed forcefully in January.

  33. rightofcenter says:

    As a person with a small business group policy (BC/BS) policy, and someone previously with an individual policy, I feel somewhat qualified to talk about this subject. I looked around quite a bit for both. Quite simply, Governor Perdue is right to try to be doing something about this issue. Republicans who don’t (are you paying attention, Earl?) will soon find themselves in an increasingly perilous position. On a group policy, it is almost impossible to find a policy that covers a spouse, the children, and the individual for under $850/month (and that is with a $1,500 deductible). On the individual policy, you can get good deals on the front end if you have no health issues or are young. You can be assured you will be screwed though when its up for renewal. For those with pre-existing conditions, expect to mortgage the house. I just talked to a friend who unfortunately had a child who had cancer in her early years. He’s self-employed, and his policy now for his family of 4 (with high deductibles) is $2,500 a month. A political party that tries to defend such a system on principles such as free markets, no entitlements, and low taxes will be a minority political party. There has to be a better way.

  34. Earl,

    You are essentially saying that local government doesn’t work. Even in Cobb County, which is dominated by your party (and may I add you did your part to gerrymander the commission districts to your party’s liking) you are unhappy with your tax rate.

    But let me point out something, if you’re so unhappy about it, why don’t you vote for somebody else to run the county? That seems to be the simplest thing to do…or is it that most of Cobb hasn’t wanted to make that choice and you disagree with the majority and therefor are looking to use your statewide power to override the preferences of the local majority?

    Very Republican of you. Apart from the argument of who should pay (property owners, and more money if they own a more expensive house vs sales taxes) why do you think the state spending money (or dictating how it is spent) is better than the local folks?

    Presumably DeKalb spends a different amount per pupil than Cobb, which spends a different amount than the remaining 178 school districts in Georgia. Actually, according to Standard & Poors when you exclude state money DeKalb spent $8,167 per pupil in 2004, Cobb spent $7,644, Appling spent $7,736, the state average was $7,742, etc…

    So just in those three counties you see some pretty big divergence from the state average with Appling almost exactly equal to the average, Cobb about 2% below and DeKalb about 5% above. So will every school system now get the same amount of money, and doesn’t that mean my taxes are actually going up compared to services because DeKalb will be spending less?

    And what do you do about places like Lee County that only spent $6,331 compared to neighboring county Dougherty which spent $7,853. Is Lee going to get a huge tax cut vs services when the state gives them more than they currently tax themselves? And could it possibly be that Lee County spends less because only 29% of its students are economically disadvantaged compared to 73% of Dougherty’s?

    Sorry, but I think the state’s roll in education is to set and fund certain baseline standards (and those certainly need improving) and then allow the counties to raise funds and spend them as their residents and school boards see fit. I mean, I’m certainly curious if my own DeKalb county can learn anything from Lee, which seems to be getting by with a lot less. Maybe they don’t mesh up together well enough to learn enough (high probability actually) but instead of just leveling off DeKalb at the state average and giving Lee a huge bonus, I’d prefer to use this system of intrastate federalism to allow individuals to move to the county where they think their children will get best educated and then vote on officials to set tax policy and how it is spent that they think will do the best job.

    I also think it is GROSSLY irresponsible for the Republicans to pursue wholesale changes in education spending at the state level without also looking into things like school consolidation. Why should the state need to pay for Jefferson County to have three different school systems in its borders, and why do Irwin and Ben Hill counties need separate systems for that matter?

    When you guys come up with an education plan that is more than just a bailout of rural voters who choose to have poor school systems by refusing to tax themselves at the same level as Cobb and DeKalb I’ll listen. Until then, may I recommend again that if you like the way they do things in Lee County you resign from the legislature and let Ed Rynders and Joseph Carter make policy for you from now on?

  35. LongTimeListener says:

    Chris,

    Here’s a backdoor assessment story for you. I bought a house in Fulton a few years ago. Two months later, I got an assessment from the county for $80,000 more than I had just paid for the house. When I called the county and offered to accept their offer, they were not amused. After a lengthly appeal process, they dropped my assessment to within a few thousand dollars of what I paid.

    About 6 months after the appeal, and about a year after the first assessment, I got another notice from the county. Amazingly, it was to the penny the original assessment! That appeal I lost. And I know property is getting more expensive in Atlanta, but I doubt it is going up 20% a year.

    I submit it is problems like we have faced in Fulton that have caused property taxes to become so unpopular.

    Back to the original point, I’m so glad that Rep. Ehrhart is willing to question our press release Governor on these issues. Keep up the good fight.

  36. GOPeach says:

    Romeguy-

    I guess America likes livin on the Plantation-

    Yes suh Masta – Eyesa be rite they-uh –

    I wuk fuh a shak anda plate-uh poke chops.

    The Socialist Plantation — yes sir –
    The United States of Hand-Outs to Lazy People.

  37. SouthFultonGuy says:

    Predictably as a defensive posture Andre is now moderating all of his Georgia Politics Unfiltered BLOG posts and deleted a series of comments that intellectually trumped his position.

    Its indeed his prerogative to censure all comments that don’t demonstrate they are “Andre Walker Ditto-heads”, but whats the point of having a BLOG if you only allow comments you approve of to be posted.

    I guess censorship is the best admission of defeat on his part. Andre probably supports the fairness doctrine too to censor talk radio.

    Sadly this means Georgia Politics Unfiltered will continue in its downfall to irrelevance with candy topics like Vernon Jones going to a movie or what color women Andre likes to date.

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