While they are increasing taxes and fees at the same time, Georgia Republicans are pushing some tax cuts through the legislature:
Nothing salves the bite of a bunch of nagging state fee increases like the promise of little tax relief.
And what better time for a tax cut – especially for the elderly who tend to vote in large numbers – than an election year.
On the 36th day of their 40-day session, lawmakers tacked tax cuts onto a bill that would increase dozens of user fees and slap a so-called bed tax on hospitals. The fees and increased bed tax would help fund a proposed $17.8 billion state budget that the House also approved on day 36.
Combined, the tax breaks would cost the state $387 million over five years, said House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Larry O’Neal (R-Bonaire), who said the cuts should attract higher-income retirees to Georgia. That would boost the state’s overall economy, O’Neal argued.
Seniors and property owners wouldn’t see any savings before January 2012 and wouldn’t get the full benefit of the tax breaks until January 2016.
One provision would eliminate a small portion of property taxes that go to the state, saving property owners a few dollars a year by some estimates.
There is nothing substantive about a tax cut for some Georgians. It’s not a broad-based tax cut. This an election year gimmick and a poor attempt at settling concerns of fiscal conservatives who have watched the budget grow at an unsustainable pace until the crisis hit last year.
The property tax cut is a good idea, but it doesn’t amount to significant tax relief. However, it could have been part of an overhaul of the tax system, which the legislature may take on in the next year or two anyway.
Tax cuts are great, and I think I speak for the fiscal conservatives here by endorsing the idea of lessening the tax burden, but make these cuts broad-based, significant enough to have a positive impact on all Georgians.