Amendment Two: It’s For The Children

Per the request of several commenters, we’ll open a discussion of Amendment 2.  This amendment would allow the state to tax an extra $10 every year for every car tag you buy.   Notice the word tax.  That is what this is.  You can try to call it a “fee” all day long, but it is revenue collected by state government to fund a somewhat nebulous concept of “trauma care” that is not directly related to the users who pay.  It’s a tax.

But, because most of the legislators have drank from Grover Norquist’s Kool-aid at some point, they can never vote for anything that is a tax.  Thus, the history of this legislature has been to try to make the voters tax themselves via referendums and constitutional amendments.  And, they very much prefer the term “fee” to “tax”.   Amendment two allows Georgians to tax themselves an additional $10 per year, per car.  It doesn’t sound like much, but when was the last time you left the tag office saying “Dang, that was cheap.  I just wish my tax on that car was even more!   What will I ever do with this money left over here on my birthday?”

To make the idea of citizens taxing themselves seem more palatable, the interests behind Amendment 2 are running commercials that are highly explotative of parents who have gone through the worst thing life can ever throw at them –  the loss of their child.  Yet, several of the examples of the child dying after an accident don’t appear to be cases where a “trauma center” would even be helpful if it had been located next door to the grieving parent’s home.   This sets this amendment up to fail my “If it’s ‘for the children’, it’s probably bad policy test.”

Now, let’s talk about the concept of paying “just $10 more” to fund trauma care.   For every Republican who loves to hate the City of Atlanta (let’s face it, that’s probably 3/4 of our readers), think back to when the city reduced police and fire services last year and then said they must have tax increases to restore services.  What was your reaction?  Clearly, the City of Atlanta cut essential services to cause pain on the electorate so that they would be willing to pay more taxes rather than the city finding a way to cut non-essential services.

How is that example any different than getting Georgians to vote to tax themselves an extra $10 for the essential service of trauma care, save the mechanism involved to initiate the tax increase?  I believe it is not.

The fact of the matter is, we elect our representatives to make tough choices.  Governing is hard.  Abdicating responsibility of prioritizing spending based on available revenues by punting the choice to citizens via referendum is now the go-to solution from our leaders.  Whether trauma care or transportation, SPLOSTS or LOSTS, our officials want the burden of funding needed services to come from the citizens rather than to look at cutting existing programs to fund other programs of higher priority.

Amendment 2 is a gimmick, designed to raise revenue by exploiting the fears of parents by invoking the horrible deaths of several Georgian children, as told by their parents.   The method used to build public support for this bill alone should be reason for voting no.  Sending a message to our elected leaders to actually lead, and make some tough choices instead of deferring the heavy lifting to an already overtaxed electorate should be enough of a reason to remove any remaining doubt.

I’m voting no on Amendment 2.   I expect it to pass.   And much like Super Speeder before it, I expect no significant change in Georgia’s trauma network/delivery well after the funds have been collected.  And spent.

109 comments

  1. seenbetrdayz, Ph.D. says:

    Why do they keep picking on car tags?

    I guess the plan is whenever it eventually costs $300/year to renew your tag, they will have solved the Atlanta traffic problem.

  2. Doug Grammer says:

    I voted “No.” I won’t voluntarily tax myself on something I don’t plan to use. If it were going to build an east west corridor in North Georgia, or something else I would use, I probably would have voted yes.

    If it’s a fee associated with trauma care, then those that use trauma care should pay for it. If those funds are short and we have to pay for it, then let it come out of general funds and make the cuts in other programs to pay for it.

    • Justin Tomczak says:

      Doug, if you planned on using trauma care, I’d say a quick prayer for you and take the day off and head up your way to make sure you were ok.

      I don’t like a dedicated revenue stream set up in such a way that it’s extremely hard to reverse in time. I’m not a fan of taxes in general either for that matter, but who is?

      It was for my own selfish reasons I actually voted for it. I hunt out in the middle of nowhere and every time I’m out there the thought crosses my mind “If something happens to me out here, I’m really screwed.” So if $10 a year might help get me to a level 1 trauma center faster in a life and death situation, I’m ok with that…but I’ll still complain about how much my tag costs next time I go to renew. 🙂

    • jm says:

      Wow. That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard on here. And I’ve heard some dumb stuff. Yes, I’m planning to schedule my emergency surgery for that car wreck I plan to be in next week.

      We pay for this stuff so that when we need it, we all have it. We hope we don’t need it, but then again, it’s just ten bucks. It’s a tax, its a fee, the legislature was too chicken to do it, whatever. It’s ten bucks, and it’ll save lives. Count me in.

  3. John Konop says:

    I have said it in the past that a fee needs to be associated in most cases with usage. Without that discipline it creates many issues:

    1) Abuses by users with no cost associated to service
    2) Budget unrelated to usage of service and willingness to pay for it
    3) Robbing Petter to pay Paul culture that promotes waste

  4. Dang, I finally agree with Charlie. Dittos to Doug on not taxing one’s self.

    Living most of my life in Cobb County and owning a house, I saw value in voting for the SPLOST. We let the commuters and visitors pay a good share of our revenue and it potentially (if local governments behaved themselves) kept our property taxes lower.

    I have a feeling this will pass due to the sentimental ads, but local communities and private enterprise need to address this issue and not punt it to car owners.

  5. For clarification, are you opposed to paying another $10 in taxes per year to fund expanded trauma care or are you opposed to the way the fee/tax is being presented? In other words, if the legislature were to present a bill raising the tag fee $10 to fund expanded trauma care would you be opposed to that bill?

        • drjay says:

          i think the answer to bc’s question is both, ic is not interested in paying a new tax, but if the powers that be think this is important and akin to an “essential service” then show some testicular fortitude and fund it in session, cut something else, actually vote to fund it and not chicken out with a stupid referendum…and manipulative advertising to support it.

      • jm says:

        Because if we all pay it, its ten bucks. If only the people who use it pay it, then it’s tens of thousands.

        Don’t think of it as a tax or a fee…think of it as insurance. You all don’t mind paying that, right? You pay that (yes, I know, its going up, and needs reform) so your kids get born for practically free, your doctor’s visits don’t kill your bank account, and if you die all of a sudden your wife and kids aren’t left with nothing. Its just ten bucks to build a few more of those things we need – hospitals.

        • Dave Bearse says:

          jm, one of the problems with the proposal is that the “we” is limited to owners of “certain passenger vehicles”. Why not impose the tax on trucks too? Why not tax a broader group such as all licensed drivers?

          • jm says:

            I’m with you on this one, but I’m being forced to take this as written or leave it. I think it should be ten bucks for every vehicle…make it an extra ten bucks on every traffic ticket written, not just “super speeders”. But I don’t get to write the law, only judge it on its merits as written. It’s not the best thing that could have been written, but I can’t wait years for these guys to come back with another one.

    • Charlie says:

      Dr. Jay’s answer below is fairly close. If the service is needed, the legislature needs to appropriate for it. Treating trauma care like it’s some luxury the voters must select as an add on tax while we’re still funding items like Halls of Fame and GoFishYourself demonstrates the fact that legislators aren’t taking this part of their job seriously, and/or are just trying to increase taxes with a disingenuous ploy aimed at the “it’s for the children” crowd.

      That said, I think it is very appropriate for the state to fund trauma care. The thought that this can be done at the local level may make some limited sense in large metro counties, but to expect that a Meriwether or Crisp county can somehow fund a Class I trauma care center on their own doesn’t seem to make much sense.

      Further, I cross 3 counties on my commute, and can easily see 10-15 counties on any given day. What if I ensure my county properly funds trauma care but one of those others ends up being the one where I need lifeflight? Am I to hope they can get me to my home county in time, or do I hope there’s an adequately funded trauma center nearby.

      I think there’s a real need here. I’m just sorry the legislature has decided to once again treat the voters like rubes to try to convince us that it’s our job to raise taxes on ourselves so they don’t have to prioritize their own spending.

      • kyleinatl says:

        Just to play devil’s advocate here Charlie, isn’t it better that the state is giving us the option to vote on this issue as Georgia citizens rather than nanny-state-ing us and telling us what we need and how we need to pay for it? I see the value of a vote like this.
        Side-note, the polling on this has not been positive for its supporters…I think with the anti-tax crowd out in force on the 2nd, it’s not going to do as well as you might think.

        • ACCmoderate says:

          Kyle, that’s why they called it a fee.

          In fact, the state house has increased a number of “fees.” They’re logic states: if you don’t call it a tax, you can raise it and still pontificate about big bad Obama being a socialist for raising taxes.

          • kyleinatl says:

            I understand your point, but they’re still giving us the choice here. They could have called it a fee just like when the Hospital bed tax was being debated back during the session and tried to pass something but they didn’t go that route then for whatever reason we can surmise.

            I’m not saying I disagree with what you’re saying, but if this had passed during the session, we would have heard complaints from the anti-tax folks about the “state forcing another tax on us to pay for unfunded mandates”…at least here, the people are accountable for it. If you want it, vote for it, if you don’t…then don’t.

        • Charlie says:

          We don’t live in a democracy Kyle. We are a republic. We elect representatives to decide how much government we’re going to have, what we’re going to spend for it, and what taxes to levy in order to fund that government.

          It would have been nice to have been able to have voted on GoFishYourself. I would like to have voted on whether the state would open the Golf Hall of Fame in Augusta (that was funded multiple times over the last few years, but never constructed). There are many other things I’d love to vote “no” on, so that the money squandered could be used to fund trauma care. But I don’t get to vote on that. My Representative and Senator do.

          For them to continue to support crap like that with my general revenue taxes, and then say that it’s my responsibility to vote to fund trauma care, tells me they have abdicated their responsibilities of appropriations.

          • Lady Thinker says:

            Like you Charlie, I see the need but I also feel it needs to be handled without adding an amendment. I will vote against it.

            I got burned with the 400 toll roads. I fully believed the government when it was said the tolls would come down when it was paid for. Since that is not going to happen, I will probably vote no on everything from now on.

        • Dave Bearse says:

          It’s a clear demonstration of the dearth of General Assembly leadership.

          The General Assembly didn’t ask voters giving about the bed tax, or a $100M income tax cut to rich seniors. The bed tax is largely an accounting scam whose only real new revenue is hidden. The tax cut a giveaway to a special interest.

      • Thanks for the explaination. Like you, I agree with the premise but not the means. However, I largely don’t trust our legislature to do the right thing if this doesn’t pass. So for reasons similar to Dr. Jay and Justin have listed elsewhere (as well as the assurance this is going to a dedicated fund), I’m voting yes.

    • drjay says:

      thank you for succinctly saying what i was thinking on that post (i don’t “plan” to use the fire dept either…)…it’s unfortunate that funding for this has been presented this way–this is actually pretty important and worthy of funding–b/c of the nature of trauma this is more of an infrastructure and public safety issue and i wish the ledge would treat it as such. it is also one better handled at a state level so that various entities can be coordinated and resources allocated logically. it’s an issue of not only access but also readiness (one of the reasons it is expensive and can seem inefficient) i have never seen a business model where trauma is a “moneymaker” for a hospital–therefore if we are going to agree it’s important (and i realize that may not be a given) then we have to be willing to subsidize it–i hope this measure fails–but i also hope our elected officials are still willing to address trauma care in january (and it’s actually not as nebulous a concept as you assert ic, it would be fairly easy to implement within the existing statewide sysytem)

      • I’m not opposed to a local government partnering with a medical facility to bring trauma care to their area. However, I am opposed to every car owner in this state having to pay for a $10 tag tax in addition to ad valorem and current fees.

        I agree with others who have said the legislature was just passing the buck and not making the tough choices, but I still don’t think the state should fund this.

        Where would these trauma centers be located? Is the cost benefit great enough? That all being said, if someone were raising money for trauma centers, I would probably donate more than $10 for the cause.

        • drjay says:

          as i kind of tried to explain above without getting into a detailed explanation of the current system and the basic philosophy of trauma care–this really does work better as a statewide initiative with trauma centers strategically placed throughout the state and lower level centers that feed into higher level centers and designated locations for transport and air support and the like–its not simply a matter of waycross deciding to build a center and hope people start getting hurt to pay for it…

  6. chocolatemilk3002 says:

    The money raised by Amendment 2 goes into a dedicated trust that can solely be used for trauma care. If you have questions about where the money will go, simply visit the Georgia Trauma Commission’s website, where you can find meeting minutes, budgets, and their long-term plan. Just this month we’ve upgraded another trauma center, giving Georgia 17 trauma centers instead of the 15 we had when this debate began.

    I don’t believe my family members, friends, or colleagues choose to be involved in a traumatic accident. The workers at the Imperial Sugar Refinery in Savannah certainly didn’t choose to have a an explosion back in 2008, but luckily, they all lived near Savannah’s Memorial University Medical Center and had access to live-saving care. If this same disaster occurred south of Macon, workers would not have been as fortunate.

    I will be voting yes because I value not only my own life, but also the life of every Georgian. I’ve relied on legislators do allocate this money during General Assembly, but they’ve refused to do so. If this doesn’t pass, our legislators won’t touch this issue for another three years, and our trauma network will languish back to where it was years ago and again we’ll fall behind every other state in the US.

    I have no problem with stepping up and being a responsible citizen and helping our state provide care for those who are in traumatic accidents. I will vote Yes on Amendment 2.

    • Junius says:

      Thank you for restoring my faith that, even on Peach Pundit, sanity can be found; even if in small supply. Yes, this is not the optimal procedural way of getting this approved; yes, it would be nice if the Crisp and Bacon counties of the world could joint-venture with the private sector to build trauma centers or if we could pass the hat and get $10 from every Georgian to pay for this. Alas, it is 2010 and no one has figured out how to make that work and I can’t see that they ever will. To oppose a $10 fee to save lives of folks in South Georgia in order to send a cryptic message to the ever buck-passing state legislature is tortured logic at best. For that to make any sense one would have to assume that those in the State House would somehow be pressured to act affirmatively to fund trauma care for Georgia’s citizens if this measure fails. To the contrary, this will only validate their decision to do nothing.

      • griftdrift says:

        No it isn’t. If they want to do it (and they should) then it should be through normal legislative means. Exactly where do the “special mechanisms” to fix all the world’s problems end? They should do their damned job.

      • KingWulfgar says:

        If this is a necessity, the legislature should fund it through normal means. No way I’m going to help vote in a CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT levying a tax on ourselves for ANY reason. We see how well that worked at the federal level with the “temporary” income tax.

        • bgsmallz says:

          Maybe I’m not getting this…but I thought the whole point of the amendment was so that the funds could be directed to a purpose and not the general fund…which seems like a good thing.

          I have no problem throwing the bums out who can’t seem to make the tough decisions, but voting no on this seems like cutting off your nose to spite your face.

          • griftdrift says:

            The danger is we become fee addicted and use it to cover the real holes with shallow dirt.

            I’ve seen a fee addicted economy in action – Florida. Where before one shovel hit dirt, my brother paid $12,000 in fees on his new house.

            We should have built the infrastructure for this necessity in good times. But we didn’t and now that there is no money, we are resorting to carnival tricks to try to salvage a terrible situation.

            It is a gross lack of leadership and I’ll be damned if I provide them cover for their failings.

          • Gary Cooper says:

            That was also the whole purpose of the super speeder law. I too will not be voting for this because it will just rubber stamp the failed leadership we are getting at the state level.

            We do need an expanded trauma care network and I certainly agree with that. But this should be taken care of during the legislative session and properly explained to the citizens of this state why we are funding trauma care instead of little personal projects that our leaders are so fond of. How about our state budget actually go to fund things the state should be taking care of?

            And what is wrong with local governments/communities working with private entities to build a trauma center in their county/region? The only thing I know that holds some back is the process for the center to get a certificate of need approved. Surely that wouldn’t be the case with trauma centers.

            • drjay says:

              there is nothing inherently “wrong” with a local community deciding to build a trauma center on its own, it’s just that as a matter of infrastructure and certification and coordination with other trauma centers and agencies, it would be more efficient and effective if it is done as a statewide initiative.

      • gatormathis says:

        Crisp County?????….what did we do……lol…..

        ….Well…for one thing….we have a LifeFlight helicopter that located here around this time last year…..
        …..on Jan 8th it carried my brother to Macon after a very serious train wreck…..trauma treatement begins on scene and carries on through at the hospital, everything done sooner is better than later. He is doing much better today.
        ….the very next weekend, the guy who lives next door to our EMS Director was lighting a fire pit thingie on his back porch deck, and burned himself severely. Director called it in on his radio, send me a unit, tell the chopper to be warming up….he’s going straight thru to Augusta. Almost curbside type service, he was in Augusta recieving service within a few hours…..he is doing much better now….
        ….I can sit here and go on and on about how many times this chopper has been in the air and for what reasons, since it located at our Airport. “Express Lane” service in many instances really makes a huge difference.
        I can promise you, neither of the two fellas I mentioned above “planned” to ever use such a service. When I carried my brother to our “Public Saftey Appreciation” supper the other night, several of the guys who worked his scene came by and visited, joking with him about how much “better” he looked. He would laugh and smile, saying You know, “I “feel” a helluva lot better too”. It’s nice for these guys to be able to see what a difference they make sometimes. And they will tell you, they are glad to be able to make that “difference”, and how much a little extra “help” improves things.
        All in all, wartime MASH type treatment centers develop so much of the processes and equipment that winds up in helping everyday folks. Everday folks get in situations also, and facilities to help correct their problems make end results better.
        It will cost me about a hundred bucks or a lil more, per year, with all the ole clunker vehicles on my bill.
        Oh well, if it passes…..after watching some good friends and relatives go through some serious wrecks, pain, treatments, and work on recovering……I’m not gonna bitch a single time if I DON’T need to use it…….matter of fact….I will go as far to say, I would prefer it that way…..

  7. KingWulfgar says:

    To quote someone from the previous amendment discussion, I’m voting no only because there’s no hell no button.

    Others here (Charlie, Doug, John Konop) have more than adequately covered my reasons why.

  8. bgsmallz says:

    Wow.

    Such vitrol for a tax that is dedicated to a specific need and where there is real evidence Georgians are in danger without spending more money on the problem.

    It really isn’t that hard a debate for me. We want to b* and moan that our legislature can’t cut the waste and direct money to the right issue. Yet when given the opportunity for we the people to do just that…we refuse? How is that logical? Voting against a dedicated tax increase that is constitutionally bound to be only used on the specific purpose b/c our legislature can’t make the tough decisions?

    It sounds like the pot calling the kettle, in my opinion.

    I’ll vote yes for amendment 2 because there are people dying because of the lack of trauma care in this state…and despite the ignorance shown above..”I don’t plan on using it”…this is one those instances where you plan for the worst and hope for the best. And most importantly, if I am going to call out my representatives for not being able to make the hard choices, I’m not going to puss out when they pass the buck. The buck stops here.

    • Gary Cooper says:

      The vitrol is because we shouldn’t have to pay an added “fee” to dedicate money to something that our state government should be doing the first place. The state should be able to cut spending and redirect funds to a trauma care network. Don’t put this on the taxpayers who are already pinched as it is when it comes to getting their tags renewed.

      And as far as the buck getting passed goes – the state legislature are the ones passing the buck…..to us taxpayers. They have the power to fix this without additional “fees” or some amendment scheme, but lack the backbone to do it.

  9. griftdrift says:

    What’s the over/;under on “new people” suddenly showing up to defend the Amendment?

    And will it be lesser or greater than the number that showed up for Amendment 1?

    • Charlie says:

      Based on those I just released from the pool after a 5 hour road trip, I believe the number is 4. We’ve bagged our limit for the day. That said, these are playing a bit nicer, or at least smarter, than the fools from the Amendment 1 thread. I will consider others on a case by case basis.

  10. ACCmoderate says:

    Quick question before I vote yes or no on this Amendment. Will the money go to create new hospitals or to upgrade existing hospitals so that they can be considered trauma centers?

    If its the later, who decides which hospitals receive the upgrades? Will private hospitals be eligible or will public hospitals be the only ones allowed to receive these improvements?

    With the shortage of doctors we’re expecting in this state, how do we intend to provide medical professionals to properly serve these new trauma centers?

    Full disclosure: I’m leaning yes, because I think that Georgia has a seriously poor trauma network and improvements have to be made to increase access and decrease the burden on existing hospitals.

    • drjay says:

      the plan is to upgrade existing facilities to trauma readiness, i believe it would be the job of the state trauma commission to decide where it would be most strategic to locate the centers, i am not sure if i hospitals status as a public or private hospital is considered–i am pretty sure there is a mix of both that are currently designated. part of the expense for these centers is being able to locate and compensate adequate coverage…

    • GAcitzn says:

      The money is administered by the Georgia Trauma Care Netowork Comission, which, although being a politcally appointed comission, is comprised and required to be comprised entirely of Trauma stakeholders. It contains nurses, paramedics, Trauma surgeons, ER docs and the like. All of their finances, 5 year plans, etc… are on their website GTCNC.org. They have how they will be spending the super speeder money and how they spent a 57 million dollar emergency allocation.
      Also listed is their 5 year plan. First and foremost on that plan is to gain sustainable funding for existing Trauma centers. While this amount of money would probably be sufficient to provide seed money for new “Trauma Centers”, meaning that existing hospitals upgrade, part of it is also needed to keep existing Trauma centers from downgrading or leaving the system. This has happened to a couple of hospitals in Atlanta in the last 2-3 years. Also on their list is coming up with a statewide communications system, so that one EMS provider or hospital doesn’t literally have to start calling down a phone tree to see where the most resources are.
      I agree with many people who have already posted that the legislature should have acted on their own. The one advantage to a constitutional amendment is that it creates a dedicated trust fund that cannot be drawn from, meaning the money can’t be stolen. I also fear that a no vote will cause the legislature to say that the citizens of Georgia do not want real change in trauma care, and cause them to ignore this issue for several years more

  11. NoTeabagging says:

    I support the need for trauma centers. I do not trust GA to keep this money separate from other funds or use it efficiently to fund trauma care. That is why I am leaning toward a no vote.
    Superspeeder fines failed because there was no incentive for local police to enforce the law. As I understand it, they did not get any of the fines back to the local economy. It did not bring in expected revenue. Where did the superspeeder fines go? Can anyone tell us specifically how it was spent on trauma care?

  12. objective says:

    I don’t see much difference between voting directly for a fee/tax, and voting indirectly for a fee/tax by way of voting for legislators who then appropriate the funds with your tax dollars. While you might say you can appropriate funds without raising taxes, that would still result in a loss of services elsewhere, which will have a similar or identical impact on your life as the possibility of needing trauma care services. No service paid for by tax dollars exists in a vacuum, and no one can isolate themselves from the fabric of our government. So, the services will cost you about the same no matter what road you take. And you “tax yourself” just by being a lawful resident of GA. Using the referendum process, at least you can have the funding stream dedicated and held accountable as much as possible, and also provide for the actual services as best as possible while simultaneously having the ability to hold the legislators accountable for whatever feelings you have about their use of the referendum process. I.e.- you can vote for trauma care services, and vote against the legislator if you feel they didn’t use the right process.

    • bgsmallz says:

      I agree with you being pissed, but let’s look at your analogy.

      Has the ‘horse’ gotten away? Nope. The horse is in the yard and the barn worker let it out, most definitely. However, you have three options: (1) you can reluctantly put the horse back in the barn and then shoot the barn worker (2) you can shoot the horse, because honestly it’s not your damn job to put the horse back in the barn!, and then shoot the barn worker; or (3) you can just sit on the porch yelling from your rocker about how the damn horse is in the yard, the barn worker is terrible and hasn’t done a thing in years, and that things would be much better if you could find barn workers that were more like they used to be.

      I’ll choose option 1.

    • objective says:

      I’m not sure if the analogy is meant to apply to what I first posted, but no matter- no human or animal needs to die! The taxpayers own the farm, so the responsible thing to do would be to put the horse back into the barn, and fire the worker who did a poor job. Anything less would be uncivilized….

  13. hewhoone says:

    If the Georgia state legislature doesn’t think expanded trauma care is worthy of a small portion of the billions they collect in taxes why should I feel differently about allocating a small portion of my comparatively miniscule resources?

    I will vote No on amendment #2.

    • objective says:

      not trying to change your mind, but i have to make the point that you should vote according to your feelings about the underlying issues when given the chance. even if you have 100% faith in the decision-making skills of your elected representatives, and defer to their decisions on all levels, what they are saying about this issue is that it is important enought to put to a popular vote, despite the lack of legislative consensus.

  14. Mid Georgia Retiree says:

    I’m leaning towards a YES vote for Amendment Two, although I have one concern. If the amendment is passed, then what would prevent the Legislature from replacing money spent on trauma care from the general fund with this dedicated money earmarked by the amendment. If that happens, there will be no increase in trauma care spending, just a different method of collecting it. That being said, I still feel that developing more and better trauma centers stands a better chance if Amendment Two passes.

    • FisherMan says:

      Glad you’re leaning YES. To answer your question, the Legislature is appropriating a very small amount, very inconsistently. If all the money from the superspeeder fines were to go away (and it’s not much to begin with), and we were left with only this to help ensure the trauma care system we all need (and that means me, you, all the posters here, our families, friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc.), that would be sufficient…because it IS dedicated and sustainable.

  15. Harry says:

    This sort of funding amendment is bad precedent, and in fact weakens the legislative tax appropriation process. Follow the money – guess what industry’s money is behind the advertising.

  16. Progressive Dem says:

    “Sending a message to our elected leaders to actually lead, and make some tough choices instead of deferring the heavy lifting to an already overtaxed electorate should be enough of a reason to remove any remaining doubt.”

    This amenment is their version of leading. This is what our elected officials came up with to solve a critical problem. Their solution is a direct reflection on the people that elected them. We told them not to raise taxes.

    They cut billions out of the state budget already. Georgia tax revenues fell by 20% in two years. They don’t have an appetite for more cuts. Sonny already boasts of running the best managed state government in the country. He and the GOP legislature have cut all the waste and fraud and inefficiency. I don’t hear anyone campaigning on a bloated state government.

    By what standard is Georgia over taxed? State revenues are less than 5% of personal income. We rank 41st in corporate income taxes per capita. We’re 33rd in state and local property tax collections per capita. We rank 25th in personal income tax per capita. We’re 25th in sales tax collections per capita. The only state with a lower gasoline tax is Alaska. The only states with lower tobbaco taxes are Louisiana and Missouri. All of this from the Tax Foundation.

    We are facing massive structural revenue shortfalls. Our sales tax is based on a 1950’s economy. We tax a mousetrap and pesticides at Home Depot, but not an exterminator service that comes to our home. Screw the do-it-yourselfer and reward the too-rich-to-get-dirty. In recent years Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee and other states have all broadened the sales tax to include some services. If we tax more services, we could lower the rate. Our income tax brackets haven’t changed much since the 1930’s. We’re one a select few states that requires families who have incomes below the povery rate to pay state income taxes. The top tax bracket is $10,000 for married couples. That hasn’t changed since the Depression. The recession hurt our tax revenues, but our antiquated tax policies are a major contributing factor.

    Given the current revenue structure, Georgia doesn’t have many options. A dedicated revenue source for trauma care seems worthwhile. Heaven help us if we have a serious car wreck far from a trauma center.

    Business wants low taxes, but they also want a state of the art transportation system. They want a quality work force. They want a superior school system. They want a criminal justice system that functions efficiently. These things aren’t free. Georgia can’t cut it’s budget and provide these services. If you want trauma centers, you have to pay for them.

  17. johnnyB says:

    Its simple, if you want a chance to survive a serious car accident South of I-20 vote YES. Georgia needs a real trauma network which will not exist unless this is funded. Having a fighting chance for my family and friends to survive a car accident in rural GA is a service I am willing to pitch in $10 bucks a year for. If an extra $10 in your wallet is more important to you than saving people’s lives (potentially your own), then stay North of I-20.

  18. griftdrift says:

    Oh no! Blood on the streets! I spend a significant amount of time south of I-20. I’m voting no. Histrionic scare tactics are not convincing me to change my mind.

    • johnnyB says:

      Wow, callous and cheap. I’ll pay your ten bucks. Scare tactics? Mr I-20 driver, why don’t you tell me where the trauma centers are outside Metro Atlanta, and how you are going to get there?

      • griftdrift says:

        Johnny. I’m very aware of the level of trauma centers south of I-20. Although really, south of about McDonough would be more accurate since that’s probably about the limit of the Golden Hour to Grady.

        And if you took the time to actually read my previous entries, you would see I am for building an appropriate trauma network, just not with this funding mechanism.

        As far as callous and cheap? Not the first time I’ve been called that. Probably won’t be the last. Really don’t care.

        • johnnyB says:

          I like that the voters get a chance to have a say on any tax measure and appreciate being granted the ability to vote on this. I believe government expenditures should be very limited and especially scruitinized if it does not fall into the buckets of public saftey, education, and infrastructure. In my book, this is an investment that falls into 2 of those 3 categories. And pulling out of the general fund means this network will not be appropriately funded nor will the unpredictability allow for the hospitals to invest in developing a network, not having a predictable flow of money to cover their unrecoverable costs. The system wont exisit if we don’t pay for. I am willing to do my part.

      • MSBassSinger says:

        LEVEL 1
        Medical Center of Central Ga., Macon
        Memorial Health Univ. Medical Center, Savannah
        Medical College of Georgia, Augusta

        LEVEL 2
        Floyd Medical Center, Rome
        Medical Center-Columbus, Columbus
        Hamilton Medical Center, Dalton
        John D. Archbold, Thomasville

        LEVEL 4
        Morgan Memorial, Madison
        Walton Regional Medical Center, Monroe

      • johnnyB… are you also offering to pay the ten bucks for everyone else who opposes this particular collection method? 😀

        Let’s see, 2 trucks, an antique car and 2 trailers… that’s $50 for me.

  19. MSBassSinger says:

    I plan to vote No on Amendment #2.

    We have a mechanism in place for government funding of essential functions that do not readily lend themselves to the private sector – the State Budget.

    Why not have an amendment for a 3 cents sales tax on groceries to feed the poor?
    Or a 2 cents per gallon tax on fuel to provide bicycles and raincoats for poor people so they can get to work?
    Or a 5 cents per therm tax on heating oil and natural & LP gas to pay for heating for the poor?
    Or that every Georgian is given all the food, water, housing, gas, and electricity they need to live?

    This is not what a Constitution is for.

    If the need is not sufficient to get a majority in both houses of the Legislature to fund it, then let’s not circumvent the established process. Going the amendment route is democracy, and this country and this state have never been, and I hope will never be, a democracy. We have a Constitution to protect the public from voters willing to use the tyranny of the majority to steal from others.

    • objective says:

      And the Georgia Constitution has a process that protects certain public funds and laws from the tyrrany of a simple majority of politicians- the amendment process.

  20. Gerald says:

    This “I don’t pay for taxes for services that I don’t use” idea is idiotic. What if everyone had that philosophy? Then there would be very few taxes – or services – because few services are used by the majority of the population. Even stuff like public schools: in many areas, the majority of the population doesn’t have a kid in school. And state universities? Forget it. Only 25% of the population (or less) goes to one. Somehow, I don’t see this huge push to privatize the University of Georgia.

    As far as blaming the legislature … well look who elected them … a bunch of small government Reagan conservatives. If they do ANYTHING AT ALL, they will get accused of being big government tax and spend socialists, or worse, RINOs. It is better to be Sonny Perdue and spend eight years doing absolutely nothing except send regular canned messages to let everyone know that you are not a Fulton-DeKalb Democrat. These guys know that sitting back and allowing the transportation, water, education, economic development etc. issues just spiral out of control than actually doing something that would violate “small government principles”, especially if they can blame Barack Hussein Obama and Mohammed Kasim Reed for every issue and failure. I am not kidding … Perdue has been blaming Obama (who has been in office for 2 years) for HIS failure to do A THING on transportation in EIGHT years. Does anyone think that Nathan Deal or any of the leaders of the Georgia legislature are going to actually do anything to threaten their re-election prospects when they have the built-in excuses of the Atlanta mayor and a Democratic president?

  21. Archon says:

    I am voting no and agree and believe all of the previous posts do an excellent job of explaining why but I also have one other reason.

    If you look at the “non-profit” hospitals around the state they take in millions and have salaries too match. They desperately cling to the monopolistic government granted Certificate of Need. If they need money for Trauma care then let the hospitals give up CON. Or maybe they could give up there non profit status and started paying some taxes

  22. FisherMan says:

    Shame on you, Charlie. Your dogmatic response to this issue is misplaced and uninformed. Of all the taxes (and I’ll freely admit this is a tax) to oppose, this is not the one treat so cavalierly.
    We are voting NOT on $10…but on how to spend it. How often as taxpayers are we given the opportunity to decide EXACTLY where our money goes? As a Constitutional Amendment, the General Assembly CANNOT touch the funds or appropriate it elsewhere. It MUST go to trauma.
    The overutilized, underfunded and unstable trauma system cannot sustain what we already have and cannot meet our current needs. We MUST have a dedicated, sustainable and predictable funding source.
    30 other states have recognized that a dedicated (which can ONLY be accomplished by a Constitutional Amendment) source is necessary for an adequate trauma system…must Georgia always lag behind and be near the bottom of these lists?
    Make no mistake, if this initiative fails, it will cost us all a lot more than $10…and be nowhere near as effective.
    Please VOTE YES for Amendment 2.

    • NoTeabagging says:

      FisherMan, I wish I had your faith to believe our good politicians and bureaucrats will spend the money wisely, appropriately and only on trauma care. No matter how solid the language, someone will find a way to screw it up. I don’t trust them. My vote will be a difficult decision due to this mistrust.

        • objective says:

          but this i straight from that article: “Each of the fees and surcharges was created under state law. But a law creating a fee to fund a new program doesn’t mean lawmakers are bound to use the money that way. Unless the appropriation is memorialized in the state constitution, it is subject to the annual budgeting process.” so, there is a clear advantage to having the amendment process used- it is much more likely to work! nothing’s perfect, but it is clear the fee collection-trust fund-appropriations process is not trustowrthy. a shame, for sure, but georgia’s constitution is created exactly the way it is, with this amendment process, to counter this problem. when the amendment process was created, it was a check on the power of the politicians to alter the legislative and appropriations processes too easily. and kudos to the legislators who, in creating this amendment referendum, recognized that the appropriations process is not necesarily trustworthy, an this issue is too important to risk, b/c it will save lives.

  23. TPNoGa says:

    Wow, I am undecided, but appreciate everyone’s posts. Of course I am now more confused than before I read all of the comments. People are making good arguments on both sides. I probably won’t know how I vote till I actually vote.

    • NoTeabagging says:

      This is one of the best threads I’ve read on PP in months. I agree. very good points form all sides. Congrats to all for chiming in!

  24. browle says:

    I feel compelled to write as so much of what I have read both here and other places is factually incorrect. First let me explain why I feel I can make such a claim. I am a 3rd year medical student, and I work with Dr. Ashley who wrote Ammendment 2. Prior to medical school I worked as an EMT in New Orleans for 8 years. I have seen trauma systems that work, and I now have the opportunity to see one that clearly does not.

    A few facts. The super speeders law was never intended to raise enough money to fund the trauma system that Georgia needs. That law was actually set up to work in conjunction with the money that Ammendment 2 would raise, and together they would raise enough to get a unified trauma system set up for the state. The state of Ga has 20% more people die every year due to trauma every year than any other state in the country, and this can be attributed to our lack of a trauma system.

    What is a trauma system? It would be to make more hospitals have doctors in their emergency rooms that are board certified emergency room physicians because this is not a requirement; many are family physicians. It would also set up a referral system between hospitals, and turn larger hospitals into level one trauma facilities meaning that trauma surgeons would be in the hospital 24/7. Currently there are no trauma centers south of Macon in the state. For example, we routinely get patients in our trauma bay that have been flown in by helicopter from hours away because of a lack of appropriate facilities to service them. Also due to a lack of communication between facilities a patient that is in need of a trauma center may be taken to a closer facility only to be later transferred. This results in thousands of dollars in duplicate tests as the labs are often not done in time to transfer them with the patient.

    To address the issue of who should pay for this the issue is simple. We all pay for it right now already. Have you ever wondered why it costs thousands of dollars to have anything done at the ER? It’s because the hospitals eat the costs of the procedures that noone, including medicare/medicaid/private insurance/private individuals, can afford. A $10 tax helps alleviate this cost and would bring down all of the costs at the hospital.

    Also as people have talked about how the government should just cover these issues some other way, well they aren’t going to. As of right now if this bill does not pass many of the current trauma hospitals have plans to shut down because they cannot afford to continue without additional funds. This bill is essentially the last option or things will get worse.

    The reason this bill is being voted on as an ammendment is because this allows it to be protected from being used for other purposes by the state legislature. This is a protection that Dr. Ashley wrote into the bill, as in the past the funds have been used for other things. As an ammendment voted on by the populice the funds are secured.

    I know this is a lot of information, and I have no intention of telling people how to vote. However, I feel that people need the facts in order to make an informed decision. The comments made thus far seem to show that people are thinking about this intellectually, but sometimes the information seems as though it may be coming from less than reliable sources. If anyone would like further information I can certainly supply it, and I hope everyone has a safe weekend.

    • objective says:

      Among the good information, it’s an excellent point to say that everyone will wind up paying one way or another due to the fluidity of the market. And $10 is a payment that could prevent higher costs to anybody who uses hospitals at all.

    • TPNoGa says:

      I must say, I find this post very persuasive. Also, last night I discussed this issue with some members of my family who work in the medical field. They strongly support this and they are to the right of me. So, I think I plan on voting yes…..for the children.

  25. Gerald says:

    That said, I oppose amendment 2. Even though I support the issue, it is not the purpose of the state constitution. We should address stuff like this by electing better people to the legislature and the governor’s office. (This means electing people like Karen Handel over Nathan Deal, and people to the state house and senate who are capable of producing more than poorly understood out of context talking points from Ronald Reagan in the 1980s that have been recycled on Fox News and talk radio a million times. Sorry, I can’t forgive Roy Barnes over redistricting, so he is simply not an option. The Democrats should have nominated someone else so I would have had a choice. Their fault, not mine.)

    • objective says:

      I disagree on whether it is the purpose of the Constitution. This exact amendment process was encoded in the Constiution to do jut what is now attempts to do- create a dedicated funding stream that is as protected as possible from ongoing fluctuations in political will and budgets.

      • Progressive Dem says:

        “on whether it is the purpose of the Constitution”

        Let’s be practical and not suffer through the devastating lifetime effects of a head injury so we can perfect our political process. Please weigh the consequences: a head injury or the perfect funding mechanism. No brainer.

        • objective says:

          i also like to look at the microeconomics of the choice, too- what else do you spend or not spend $10 on? is there anything as valuable as saving lives, even if it is a stranger’s? And if you’re saving your $10 to improve what you perceive as a flawed political process, are you going to put that $10 towards something to improve the political process- above and beyond what you already find worthy to contribute?

          • griftdrift says:

            It is exactly these two lines of progressive argument that drive me crazy.

            Let’s be practical – Utopia disguised as praciticality. It is not practical to attempt to solve every problem in the world all at once. You only create other problems while slapping yourself on the back for half-a$$ solving the one your addressing

            It’s not much money, what else would you spend it better on – answer? None of your damned business

            • Progressive Dem says:

              G*d knows Georgia isn’t trying to solve every problem in the world. This is a government famous for sitting on its hands. I’m thankful they are at least trying to solve this one. It must be paid for one way or another. We could wait another 20 years before they solve this in a way that suits you.

              Again, experience X number of head injuries some of which could be remarkably reduced in severity with a nearby truma center, or wait for the Georgia General Assembly a body of (you fill in the blank) to arrive at better funding mechanism?

          • Is it just for one car that you own or does it cover all of them? Does it apply to trailers too? I have 2 trucks, an antique car, a horse trailer and a flatbed trailer. If I have to pay that for 5 total tags, it’s not $10 per year, it’s $50. What could I better spend $50 on than another tax? I like the way grift said it best… none of your damned business.

              • Current:
                2 Prestige Plates – $55 / year each
                3 Standard Plates – $20 / year each
                Total – $170 / year

                Proposed:
                2 Prestige Plates – $65 / year each
                3 Standard Plates – $30 / year each
                Total – $220 / year

                Looks to me like a 29.4% increase for my situation. And 3 of those vehicles don’t see the road all that often.

            • objective says:

              so, analyzing the microeconomics of it, it turns out that it doesn’t matter what the alternatives are. what i think that shows is that an argument for voting “no” based upon improper political process is just a cover for underlying selfish drives. i’m not judge or jury, just looking at economic behavior.

              • Having multiple reasons does not necessarily mean that one has a cover. No, I don’t want to pay an extra $50 / year in taxes when I’m already being forced to chip in to the various Halls of Fame, GoFish, Governor’s Council on the Holocaust, etc. If you’d like to contribute my portion of this new tax / fee / latest BOGA (Bend Over Grab Ankles) amendment, feel free… I’ll even take PayPal. It’s not that I necessarily mind funding a few extra trauma centers (okay, maybe not 15 extra trauma centers), but I don’t think it’s okay to fund some of the other pet projects we’re paying for (and still haven’t seen come to light) and then turn around and ask us to shoulder this burden too. Do we want a Golf Hall of Fame or do we want trauma centers? The budget is tight… you don’t get both.

                • griftdrift says:

                  Bingo. And it’s not about having a perfect political process.

                  It’s about the cowardice of taking an appropriation issue and by making it a ballot issue turning it into a political campaign where we subjected to dying children and blood in the streets.

                  In other words, it shouldn’t be our job to polish the legislature’s t*rd.

                  • objective says:

                    I agree 100% about setting proper budget priorities. But what better way to ensure they are set than by way of constitutional amendment?

                    • objective says:

                      of course, we will need to feed our representatives a high fiber, balanced diet to ensure turds are wholesome

  26. Doug Grammer says:

    I would have gone with increased DUI fines to raise part of the money. Some auto accidents are caused by DUI’s which lead to trauma. I have not done the research to see what percentages are involved. If it costs $500 for 10 minutes ride to the hospital and I need that, I’d pay it. The rest is a question of how much insurance will cover.

    • I have no problem with increasing DUI fines / penalties. That we can certainly agree on.

      They can also raise the super speeder fines. Ontario has a $10k fine for going 50 km/h over the speed limit. (Roughly 100 mph on the highways.) Catch 100 of those a year and you’re looking at $1M. That’s essentially 100,000 car tags worth of “fee” increases.

    • seenbetrdayz, Ph.D. says:

      Reminds me of this past year that Centerville, GA city council made everyone who had alarm systems pay for permits to curb the costs of responding to repeated false alarms caused by systems in a handful of homes and businesses. I never understood why they couldn’t just fine so-and-so’s business for the fire alarm that goes off 3 or 4 times a day for no apparent reason (or maybe the city could get re-imbursement from the alarm company).

      Remind me never to travel to Ontario, though. LOL.

  27. GAPlato says:

    Before you go to the polls today, one last argument should be made.

    The leading cause of death in Georgia for people between the ages of 1 to 44 is… ACCIDENTS.

    While we have a limited capacity to prevent these mishaps, we can and should put in place the proper services for the aftermath of the emergency.

    Gripe about the politicians, kick them out of office if need be, BUT DO NOT abdicate the responsibility to fix the problem.

    VOTE YES ON AMENDMENT 2!

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