About That Tax Reform Proposal That I Just Said Was Dead…Perhaps Hearts And Minds Are Changing

January 28, 2011 13:41 pm

by Charlie · 41 comments

There were a variety of meetings this morning at the Capitol with members of the Tax Reform Commission, Grover Norquist from Americans for Tax Reform, and other interested parties including legislators, capitol staffers, and members of various other right-leaning interest groups.

I’m told by one participant that it was not what he expected to observe at all, and it may have been one of the most productive policy conversations he has ever witnessed.

While both sides stated their positions fairly firmly at the beginning, it seemed that fairly early into one of the meetings, the inner-wonk of each side was properly stroked, and thus began an hour or so of back and forth trading of philosophy, data, and positions of common ground.

I’m told by the observer that he would not be surprised if a few tweaks were made to the proposal that would receive substantial support from each side, and removed the dreaded “Tax Increase” label affixed by Norquist’s ATR.

If this is no longer a bill that represents a “tax increase”, then the climate may be changing down at the Capitol.  An early spring thaw may even bring this out of hibernation and onto the Governor’s desk.

LoyaltyIsMyHonor January 28, 2011 at 2:34 pm

Hoooray for fee increases!

Let me guess, Der Fuhrer recommended they rename all the proposed tax increases as fee increases? I just don’t understand why the General Assembly needs Grover’s permission to do anything related to revenue? Don’t answer that, it was a rhetorical question.

John Konop January 28, 2011 at 4:19 pm

Grover Norquist demigods no tax increases will he avoids the entitlement issue. The truth is from military, Medicare, state workers…..we cannot afford what was promised. And since we waited so long to fix the problem any rational person who can do math knows we need to make cuts as well increase taxes and or fees to make the math work.

People on both sides refusing to deal with this reality are only selling out the future for their kids.

Max Power January 28, 2011 at 4:57 pm

I’m pretty sure your “demagogues” fell victim to spell check.

But who really cares what Grover Norquist and ATR says.

John Konop January 28, 2011 at 5:31 pm

Sorry my bad!

Three Jack January 28, 2011 at 5:18 pm

we don’t need tax or fee increases if our elected officials are willing to end the decades old era of government handouts. but i doubt they have the cajones to actually tell folks, ‘no mas’.

John Konop January 28, 2011 at 5:34 pm

Three Jack,

….we don’t need tax or fee increases if our elected officials are willing to end the decades old era of government handouts…..

Unless you are talking about eliminating Medicare, VA health benefits….any rational person will tell you who understands the math that you are flat out wrong!

John Konop January 28, 2011 at 5:54 pm

Not many on any side debate this problem they just avoid it. This is worse than the lending crisis I warned about years ago if we keep playing kick the can.

Richard W. Fisher, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas has remarked that in order to “cover the unfunded liability” for the Medicare program today over an infinite time horizon,[clarification needed] “you would be stuck with an $85.6 trillion bill” which is “more than six times the annual output of the entire U.S. economy”, and noted that “Medicare was a pay-as-you-go program from the very beginning.”[57]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medicare_(United_States)

Harry January 28, 2011 at 11:26 pm

How about cutting Medicaid, generous pensions for teachers and public servants, and overstaffed departments?

Lady Thinker January 29, 2011 at 8:40 pm

Then what will you do when there aren’t enough public servants to handle all the fires, shootings, home invasion robberies, car wreck injuries, and just plain heart attacks? You know, the public servant you cut in your community might be the one who would have save your life.

What about teachers who try to move Georgia out of number 48 in the nation, who deal with all kinds of students, who get attacked, depending on the school district, and who are trying to educate your kids from kindergarten until they graduate from college?

These people do not get paid enough as it is and they look forward to those NOT SO generous pensions.

Harry January 29, 2011 at 10:06 pm

I agree with you about the necessity of law enforcement, but in general teachers and bureaucrats need to work at prevailing community wages, and they need to depend solely on social security – just like those who pay their salaries and benefits.

Jeff January 30, 2011 at 3:11 pm

I was once a First Year Teacher. I made $29K and change. My brother was recently a First Year city public works worker in a suburban Atlanta city. He made right at $29K and change that year.

Many others in that community also made $29K and change that year, including a number of secretaries, linemen, mechanics, and others.

The difference is that many of those other professions can expect pay raises. Teachers are solely at the whim of the State, and their salary for their entire career is known the day they enter the classroom. ZERO room for advancement unless you go into Administration or get a higher degree, and even then the pay raises aint that grand. And let’s be REAL honest here: you do NOT want a teacher in the classroom whose sole goal is to make it into Administration one day, and you do NOT want an Administrator who actually wanted the job.

Finally, going back to the salary/ raise issue: Right now, I largely control my own destiny with that – I’m a programmer for a contractor. In my first year as a programmer, I made about 150% of my salary as a teacher. Not grand, but better. In my second year as a programmer, I’ve more than doubled my former teacher’s salary, and I’m to the point that my 8th Year teacher can quit her job. That is with the exact same degree.

You can talk about the evils of pensions all you want, but that is the ONLY thing keeping many of the good teachers in there at this point. If you want REAL education reform and if you want to get serious about enticing good teachers to enter and stay in the classroom, do it the way the private sector does: by paying them what they’re worth.

John Konop January 30, 2011 at 3:57 pm

Jeff,

We have many issues with schools from poor use of facilities, administrators preference over teachers, teach to a test over educating kids, poor evaluation system of teachers, lack of coordination between higher education and k-12, societal ills thrown at the doorsteps of schools, run-down facilities in impoverished areas……..

I agree teachers are the key but the system is like a boat with to may leaks and with tax revenues diving relative to expenses and the pension problems with an aging population it makes this a tough tight rope. And we have real wages dropping combined with a high unemployment rate making tax increases a tough sell.

The biggest part of the pension problem is the healthcare side of the equation. It is mathematically impossible to honor future healthcare obligation with the cost rising way faster than GDP. And yet neither side has been willing to talk about the realities of what needs to be done with the healthcare system.

Any private or public solution must have the dirty word called rationing. And yet what we get from both sides is irrational talk about killing grandmother, death panels, putting everyone on Medicare with no cuts…….

Unless we have an adult conversation with tough solutions about the above it will destroy the private and public sector in our country.

Lady Thinker January 30, 2011 at 7:59 pm

John,

Why not attack the pension and benefits packages of elected officials like Congress, the General Assembly, president, his Cabinet, the governor, etc. Some of these people can do one term and be set for life. Why not go after these people?

Mama_grizzly January 30, 2011 at 6:52 pm

Why not cut the number of employees in the Governor’s office and other state departments. Cut staff back to levels to 2006 levels or earlier. a number of departments (n

Mama_grizzly January 30, 2011 at 6:58 pm

Hit enter too early.

A number of departments have increased employees instead of cutting back. Public Safety is the only agency/department that should add staff..

There are political cronies being given jobs or had jobs created for them since the new Constitutional officers were sworn in.

The AJC should take a look at all Offices and see what they find.

Three Jack January 31, 2011 at 9:00 am

ga teachers are paid quite well. in fact, georgia ranks 3rd in the u.s. if you combine teacher salaries with cost of living to calculate the ‘salary comfort index’. and yet the state is still ranked at the bottom of most educational ratings…maybe they are paid too well.

real savings will come from reducing the admin side of government. when you have county school superintendents making double the governor’s salary, something has gone wrong on the spending side. there are many more examples of over compensation being paid to govt workers at every level.

Jeff January 31, 2011 at 9:15 am

ga teachers are paid quite well

Not really. Again, using myself as an example: My degree is Computer Science. I came to withing Student Teaching (which I left) to getting a Secondary Mathematics Education degree at the same time. Other than Student Teaching, I completed ALL graduation requirements for the teaching degree in addition to all the requirements for my CS degree. Between the two, I was only a class or two away from completing all the requirements for a Mathematics degree as well. (Differential Equations and Discrete 2, IIRC. But Calculus and I do NOT get along well.)

Thus, when it comes to Mathematics, I was about as close to a genuine “subject matter expert” as a Bachelor’s degree can make you.

In the private sector, even in the current economy a person with that degree set can easily expect to make above $50K first year, MAYBE even 6 figures first year, if they get a few lucky breaks.

And yet we want these people to go into education, where their salary tops out at about $30K first year.

What self-serving Capitalist would do that???? If you encourage such a person to do that “for the common good”, are you not encouraging Socalism?

If you’re talking about being a glorified baby sitter – which is truly what NCLB and Ga’s recent education “reforms” force teachers to be – then yes, teachers truly are paid quite well. After all, what baby sitter reliably makes $30K or more even with MANY years of experience?

But if you want genuine subject matter experts, people that REALLY know their subject AND can teach it to others, HELL NO teachers are not paid anywhere NEAR “quite well”.

Jeff January 31, 2011 at 9:16 am

Looks like a forgot to close a bold tag. Sorry y’all!

John Konop January 31, 2011 at 9:31 am

Jeff,

I agree Jeff it is tough in the math and science area to compete with the private sector. That is why we need to cross utilize the university system as well as use the best teachers in Georgia and wire the classes across the state so other districts can utilize the talent. And if we went to a lecture format like in college for higher level math and science classes with student teachers helping in the class we could pay the teachers more and have the best quality.

Three Jack January 31, 2011 at 11:11 am

from what i’ve been able to find, the average teacher salary in ga is around $47,000 with a 2-3 month summer vacation and many holidays during the school year. take that average salary for about 10 months of work along with georgia’s relatively low cost of living and it is clear that the average ga teacher is paid well.

in the words of nj governor chris christie, “you don’t have to do it…teachers go into it knowing the wage scale.”

Jeff January 31, 2011 at 11:24 am

That average you cite includes people with 30 years and a PhD behind their name.

If you had a similarly degreed subject matter expert with HALF that time, they’d be making DOUBLE the money in the private sector, at a bare minimum.

Why do you continue to promote socialism?

Three Jack January 29, 2011 at 10:36 am

john,

“any rational person” will know that the meeting concerned georgia’s tax/spend system, not the federal government. you might want to read the original post.

also any rational person understands we have a spending problem at every level of government, not a revenue problem. simple minds immediately want to raise taxes/fees instead of addressing the real problem which is spending.

John Konop January 29, 2011 at 12:32 pm

Three Jack,

…also any rational person understands we have a spending problem at every level of government, not a revenue problem. simple minds immediately want to raise taxes/fees instead of addressing the real problem which is spending…..

Any rational person that can do math understands Medicare and health entitlement cost for state, county, military…. know it will bankrupt the country no matter what you cut in other areas in the budget. We need to fundamentally change what we cover and how much we take in. Also if healthcare cost keeps rising way faster than the GDP than we will never get it under control. This is not a debate it is just basic math.

…..$85.6 trillion bill” which is “more than six times the annual output of the entire U.S. economy”…..

Do you understand what the above means?

Three Jack January 29, 2011 at 1:15 pm

john,

unlike you, i understand this meeting was about georgia’s possible tax reform program, it had nothing to do with medicare. now medicaid might have been discussed because this freeloader program is already underfunded and will get worse as a result of obamacare increasing the number of people who qualify (that’s one of the reasons so many states are suing the fed).

do you understand the difference between medicaid and medicare john?

Three Jack January 29, 2011 at 1:47 pm

let me help you out john:

from about.com — Medicare is the national health plan that most people upon turning 65 years old, will qualify for it. It consists of parts A, B, C, and D. You will have worked 40 quarters in your lifetime in order to obtain it. Others below age 65 will qualify due to a Federal definition of disabled and then after 24 months after the declaration.

Medicaid is simply welfare for poor folks who fall below a certain income level. It is administered by the state in which you live and the minimum income requirements vary by such. It pays the balance of what Medicare doesn’t.”

John Konop January 29, 2011 at 2:05 pm

Three jacj,

You obviously have a major problem understanding math and the problem. The Bush drug prescription bill alone we do not have money for in the future not even including Medicare. Even if we let poor people die on the street like you support we are still in a world of hurt.

Three Jack January 29, 2011 at 2:21 pm

never mind.

John Konop January 29, 2011 at 3:16 pm

Three jack,

Click your heels three times and say John is right. This might help you gain the ability to understand math. :)

B Balz January 29, 2011 at 5:51 pm

Both of ya’s!! ! !!

Take a look at this report showing the depth of the spending/tax issueissue at the Federal level, using CBO analysis.

http://nolabels.org/blog/dangerous-game/

Party is over kids, time to clean up the mess.

shep1975 January 28, 2011 at 9:00 pm

I was at the meeting and can confirm there was a handshake agreement between the two rival fractions.

Ludowici January 29, 2011 at 8:57 am

…and that matters because….

saltycracker January 29, 2011 at 11:40 am

Reform ?

Reduce the number of counties in Georgia
Require a minimum of 35,000 population or ? to establish a city
Consolidate & eliminate many State agenices
Term limits & no pension programs for elected offices
Eliminate defined public pension programs for new hires & begin a funded 401K type programs
Cut barriers to improving medical procedures, technology & coverage

And that’s a start

Three Jack January 29, 2011 at 2:59 pm

+159

B Balz January 29, 2011 at 6:01 pm

The only way to reform FULCO/DeKalb is to starve them into insignificance. What do you really think the newly incorporated ‘cities’ have ever been about? The incorporation movement is considered, genuine effort to wipe out the wholesale inefficiencies and corruption.

Cities are working well and the Big County system is crumbling. Like it or not, if theses cities can survive, heck even thrive, during the Great Recession, what do you think will happen as the economy stabilizes and grows again. It will.

Rural counties will merge as well. Perhaps three at a time.

saltycracker January 29, 2011 at 7:01 pm

Without all the stats and only answering from conversations – North Fulton took that course to purge evil, a smart move that overshot its mark with too many cities & the ideals will be squandered.

Now they have no big drop in taxes, internal bickering, money issues. If they ever get some money they will build City Halls to outdo Roswell & create empires of bureaucrats to bite the corrupt hand of Atlanta that feeds them.
And ride the train to the airport for $1.50.

They’ll thrive on the taxpayers back. But it does feel good to waste money locally.

Dave Bearse January 29, 2011 at 9:14 pm

BB, I know it’s no surprise, but I beg to differ on this one. The new cities have been about fair and efficient service and infrastructure delivery, not size of government.

Starve the beast, after 25 years at the national GOP level, has been demstrated to be electioneering hyperbole.

LU LaFayette January 29, 2011 at 1:23 pm

I’ll believe they’re really against tax increases when they repeal the “Transportation Investment Act” which basically forces us to raise our own taxes in order to have basic services like paved roads.

http://www.cityoflafayettega.com/2010/10/sales-tax-creep/

— The LaFayette Underground

Dave Bearse January 29, 2011 at 9:24 pm

The story here is that Norquist slammed the Tax Council’s recommendations and then Ralston then he was in no hurry to consider the recommendations.

The Tax Council’s report was quite concerning revenue neutrality. The conclusion, after last year’s bed tax fiasco, is that Norquist requires bowing down during his personal audience. Now it’s all hunky-dorry.

Who does Norquist think he is, Rush Limbaugh?

saltycracker January 30, 2011 at 9:18 pm

Teachers staying for low pay to collect pension !
Just what our kids need is a teacher suffering to retire early in their 50’s to make more than they did working in their ’60’s & on……
The plan is financially not sustainable – for new hires end defined programs add 401K’s, stop the 3% annual bump for those retired & give all the WORKING teackers a BIG raise….

There will never be a fair amount – $90K+ for a kindergarten teacker (see Open GA) – $600K for an administrator (see below) ….

AJC headline: Teacher pension staff’s pay stuns

By James Salzer
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

While teachers went without cost-of-living raises last year and had to take unpaid days off, some top state staffers managing their retirement accounts got pay boosts of more than 35 percent.

The two investment chiefs at the retirement system took home $609,000 each, almost double what they were paid before the recession hit in 2007.

According to state records, the two, Nancie H. Boedy and Charles W. Cary, made slightly more in fiscal 2010 than University of Georgia President Michael Adams, who was listed as earning $601,494. They made more than four times what then-Gov. Sonny Perdue was paid.

Teacher Retirement System officials said the big pay — a combination of salaries and “incentive pay” or bonuses — are needed to keep highly qualified money managers running teacher and state employee retirement programs that are now worth a combined $66 billion.

rest of the story:
http://www.ajc.com/news/teacher-pension-staffs-pay-820365.html

saltycracker January 30, 2011 at 9:20 pm

dang spellcheck !

Harry January 31, 2011 at 9:35 am

Jeff,

The average teachers salary in Georgia, not including pension and health benefits, is approaching 50k. This is well above the prevailing income level in most communities. We can’t afford it.

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