I’m getting word that State Senator Preston Smith gave a 20-minute speech ripping Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle and Senate Leadership. He spoke of how Republican leadership in the Georgia Senate has failed. He claims he was stripped of his chairmanship for voting against the Hospital bed tax.
We’ll see if we can’t get a transcript of the speech or a video up soon.
Update: The AJC’s Ernie Suggs has some excerpts from Smith’s speech:
Smith said that for his objection to the so-called “Sick Tax,” he was punished by party leaders, who stripped him of the chairmanship of the powerful judiciary committee.
Smith said as a Republican he is committed to not voting for a tax increase, which he considers HB 307 to be.
“I have been a loyal member of my team,” Smith said in a lengthy address from the well. “They handed down public punishment., I am compelled to make a public statement.”
HB 307 would impose a hospital tax to help fill a $600 million gap in Medicaid funding. The 1.45 percent tax on patient revenue could raise about $170 million.
Smith said that if he cannot vote for the people he represents, then he is useless as a lawmaker.
He specifically called out Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers, and Senate President Pro Temp Tommie Williams as the chief punishers.
The best quote of all:
“Take the chairmanship and give it to a puppet,” Smith said.
Update by Chris: You can read Senator Smith’s remarks here.
The JOBS Act, sponsored by Tom Graves, has just passed the Senate and is on its way to the Governor’s desk. Details to follow later as we are all busy with our everyday “work” lives. Peach Pundit apologizes for not keeping up with demand…but not really.
Update: The AJC reports that earlier today the Senate tried to attach the Hospital Bed Tax to the bill, but failed.
A substitute bill authored by the Senate Finance committee, that included the 1.45 percent tax on patient revenue, was soundly rejected 28-5 by the senate.
The original JOBS Act (HB 1023) passed 33-13.
The friction has started. On Monday Senate Democrats said “No Thanks” to a Republican measure to increase hospital taxes.
Walter Jones with Morris News Service writes:
The Senate Finance Committee merged the House version of Perdue’s hospital tax with another bill nicknamed the JOBS Act that has a package of tax breaks for businesses. The committee also sweetened some of the tax breaks to resemble a version of the JOBS Act that Perdue vetoed last year.
The committee announced its 8 a.m. meeting Monday, when legislators were in recess, and said the agenda would be disclosed later. Only two Democrats serve on the committee, and witnesses say neither was present.
Senate staffers say the changes were needed to win enough votes for passage. The hospital tax isn’t popular with either party.
“We had to do some minor, technical amendments,” Senate President Pro Tem Tommie Williams told reporters Tuesday after the committee meeting.
Senate Republicans have taken the JOBS Act, which passed with bi-partisan support in the House, and stuck Perdue’s hospital tax in the middle of it. It’s an election year. The last thing any party wants to be forced to do is to raise taxes. It seems Republicans are trying to spread the blame out in order to protect themselves. Well, it’s not working for them.
“They can still pass it. They don’t need us – they’ve got 33 votes in the Senate. They only need 29,” said state Sen. Doug Stoner (D-Smyrna). “We’re not committed to passing it or opposing it. We haven’t been brought into the discussion, either.”
Stoner’s comment is very reminiscent of DC Republicans response to Obamacare: “You can pass it without us.” We’ll see if the Senate does pass the measure. My guess is there will be plenty of negotiations between now and the vote. We are in the middle of a budget crisis and state needs revenue. This battle is just getting started.
H/T to Jim Galloway.
The state Senate voted unanimously (50-0) yesterday afternoon to pass SB 70, a bill by Sen. George Hooks (D-Americus) requiring special or expedited reporting of campaign contributions made by those who do business with the state.
The AP reports that Hooks said the bill, inspired by former Illiniois Governor Rod Blagojevich (D), “closes a loophole in Georgia ethics law and creates more accountability for those running for public office.”
State Sen Gloria Butler (D-Stone Mountain) went to the floor yesterday (13:10 here) to call on Georgia lawmakers to take the borrowed cash available to the Peach State as a result of the unread “stimulus” bill and to use it not to create jobs or develop/modernize infrastructure, but to prop up “underfunded” government services and programs like Medicaid and food stamps.
“Georgia needs to use the economic stimulus aid to expand and sustain services to the residents of this state,” said Butler. Apparently she missed the fact that the $485,000,000.00 headed this way this year is already earmarked solely for Medicaid use (though I can’t really blame her for missing that; after all, not even the folks who voted to pass the 1,076-page, $787,000,000,000.00 bill have read the entire thing — nor has the executive who signed it into law).
Apparently Sen. Butler is also missing the fact that the ostensible purpose of a stimulus bill is to create jobs and to get money flowing in an economy again — something that pumping cash into food stamps and Medicaid simply will not do. Social safety net programs have a very important place in society, but increasing funding to them is not economically stimulative, and would be an utter waste of the as-yet-unknown (but highly speculated on) amount of borrowed cash Georgia is eligible for under this bill.