As I wrote earlier today, while the Republicans bicker among themselves, the Democrats are offering real solutions that will move Georgia forward again.
Georgia Democrats are proposing two bills to put a stop to school cuts and take the burden of $1.5 billion in property tax shifts off local government. The Democratic plans provide fiscally sound property tax relief by fully funding the Quality Basic Education (QBE) Act.
“This is immediate, effective tax relief without shifting the burden to local governments,” said Rep. Jamieson (D-Toccoa). “It creates no new taxes.” Under the first bill sponsored by Rep. Jamieson, counties who lower local property taxes can tap into $300 million this year in state education funding.
Accompanying that bill is legislation sponsored by Representative Kathy Ashe (D-Atlanta) that mandates the state to fully fund the Quality Basic Education Act for the first time in over 20 years. This will ensure that K-12 public education is adequately funded and the state no longer shifts the burden to local property owners.
The funding for local governments that reduce property taxes would come from the state’s reserve fund for the next two years, $300 million this year and $300 million next year. Funding received would be dedicated to the Quality Basic Education formula that funds public education.
Rep. Kathy Ashe stated, “We cannot demand increased student achievement while the state is starving public education. Under the Republicans, public education has been cut by $1.5 billion and over 100 systems have been forced to raise property taxes as a result. It’s time we do the right thing, and made the state government pay its fair share.”
“These are great bills that roll back property taxes and help fund public education in Georgia,” said House Democratic Leader DuBose Porter (D-Dublin). “Families have suffered from shifting the burden to homeowners and Georgia schools have been hurt by the cuts in their basic level of funding from the state which has forced local systems to raise property taxes.”
House Caucus Chairman Calvin Smyre (D-Columbus) noted, “There is a direct cause and effect here – cuts to education funding lead to higher property taxes. I’m calling on the Republican leadership to do their utmost to give both of these worthy proposals a fair hearing. It is time that education and protecting local property taxes becomes a priority once again in Georgia.”
In total, public education cuts by the GOP are as follows:
Proposed fiscal year 2009
Fiscal year 2008
Fiscal year 2007
Fiscal year 2006
Fiscal year 2005
Fiscal year 2004
Amended fiscal year 2003