Sen. McKoon Files Bills Affecting Transportation Funding Act Revenue

State Senator Josh McKoon of Columbus has prefiled several bills that if passed, would roll back some of the taxes that came with the passage of House Bill 170, last year’s major transportation funding bill. The measures have to do with the hotel tax and the excise tax on fuel that is paid by governmental entities.

The House – Senate conference committee that reconciled the two versions of the bill decided to add a $5 per room per night fee on most hotel stays that was estimated to raise $150 million annually. Those in the lodging industry were not happy. Senate Bill 252 repeals the fee completely, without another revenue source specified to make up the shortfall.

Senate Bill 253 exempts counties, municipalities, and school districts from having to pay the excise tax on vehicles they operate, including school buses. Senate Bill 251 serves the same purpose, but does not include counties and municipalities. The two measures address a concern by local governments that they are now being charged the excise tax on fuel purchases from which they were previously exempt.

Legislative leadership previously indicated a desire to mot make changes to the Transportation Funding Act until after it had been in effect for a full year, meaning changes to the funding formula would not be considered for the 2016 session.

8 comments

  1. John Konop says:

    Dear Josh,

    You realize after the Savannah port is complete truck traffic will increase by 60% in metro Atlanta. In case you have not noticed with have massive traffic issues already. People and products stuck in traffic means less business, not good for the economy. And we have NO MONEY to pay for the needed improvements when the port is completed, let alone not enough for current issues. Now you are proposing even less money, while cars get better MPG, lowering tax revenue to pay for need infrastructure. You do understand the math? Please help us all understand your plan to deal with this issue? How does your current proposal even make any sense if you care about jobs and the economy?

  2. MattMD says:

    Well, I think the $5 bed tax on lodging should be repealed. It wasn’t fair for that industry to be blindsided by such an arbitrary tax. How did they even get to $5?

    I’m a fairly budget-oriented traveler when I go on vacations. At some motels, you might end up paying a 15-20% on your room depending on the county and room rate. As far as the logic of needing roads to get to the hotel/motel, sure I get it, but you could apply that to almost anything you use a car to get to. What about a drive-through tax?

    Yes, cars will keep getting more efficient and there likely will even be a day where we see a huge drop off in gas-powered cars. What are we going to do then? At this point I think we need to stick at taxes at the pump, that is the most effective user-pays system.

    PS: I will try to do a little research later but it is common knowledge that cars cause little road damage compared to trucks. There was a study which suggested that one truck caused road wear equivalent to 10,000 cars. Is this somehow addressed on the state level? It looks like the diesel tax is a little higher than the gas.

    • Jon Richards says:

      I’ll venture an educated guess. The big difference between the House and Senate versions of HB 170 was that the Senate version tried to have a lower excise tax than the House version in order to keep Georgia gas prices competitive with our neighbors in SC, NC, TN, AL, and FL The worry was that Georgia residents close to neighboring states would drive across the border for gas, and while they were at it, do their other shopping there.

      In the end, though, negotiators came up with a number that they needed to raise via something else than the gas tax to get revenue to where it needed to be. That number was $150 million. And they only had a day or two to get there, since time was running out on the session, and no one wanted nothing to pass.

      The desire, perhaps, was to do the best the legislature could to have the tax affect non-residents as much as possible. That’s why a hotel-motel tax sounded appealing: most visitors would be from out of town,. But, how much to charge?

      The best way to deal with it might have been to consider things like room pricing, whether a state employee was staying at the hotel, how long the stay was, and other factors. That way you could have done something more progressive where the local Motel Six would charge a buck, while the Ritz would charge $10. And the state wouldn’t have to chip in $millions for its employees staying at hotels.

      But those figures weren’t available within the short time window available to get the bill passed. What was available was the total number of room nights the Peach States major hotels and motels (but not B&Bs) were occupied. Knowing that number made it easy to divide $150 million needed by the number of room nights to come up with a figure rounded to $5. And, that’s what passed.

      • Dave Bearse says:

        Yeah, it’s not as if the state’s transportation funding shortfall hadn’t been developing for the past 15 years or anything.

        The hotel industry got sucker punched. The industry should’ve made more campaign contributions and done more wining and dining.

        But hey, trust the General Assembly with tax reform!

        • John Konop says:

          Dave,

          How would you pay for obvious transportation needs? You are not suggesting the Mckoon approach of clicking your heals 3 times and making wishes?

  3. Will Durant says:

    This guy has not only become the local purveyor of red meat but also now with the infamous red meat that tried to pass itself off as the other white meat.

  4. Salmo says:

    Josh McKoon is obviously running for statewide office in 2018. Anybody want to hazard a guess at which post? SoS?

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