Tuesday of this week marked the 30th day of our 40 day legislative session. This is a crucial day because it is the day that a bill must have passed at least one body in order to have a chance of becoming law. This is always a busy day as we rush to get key legislation passed in time to be considered by the Senate before the session ends. The biggest surprise was the return of the tax cut legislation that last week I told you did not pass. I am happy to report that the measure did pass and this November, you will have the chance to vote for the largest tax cut in Georgia’s history.
House Resolution 1246, a different version of the tax bill that we considered last week, was amended to reflect changes in the original proposal that failed. The new tax cut bill allows Georgians to vote to eliminate the ‘birthday tax’ on personal vehicles over a two year period, eliminate the state’s portion of the ad valorem taxes on personal vehicles and property, and cap assessments on personal property at 2 percent per year and commercial property at 3 percent per year. This version of the bill does not include any new taxes and does not include a cap on the growth of local governments. When this measure is fully implemented, it will save Georgians more than $750 million making it the largest tax cut in Georgia’s history.
This bill is not just good news because it will save taxpayers millions of dollars, but also because it represents the purest form of local control – the power of the voter in the voting booth.
If Georgians vote in November to eliminate the car tax, a separate measure passed this week would apply a $10 fee on every vehicle registered in Georgia so that we can fund a state-wide trauma care network. Rather than paying two or three hundred dollars, Georgians would pay the current $20 registration fee plus $10 toward trauma care. Trauma hospitals are those like Grady in Atlanta that treat the most seriously injured and indigent patients in our state. Unfortunately, there are large areas of our state that are hours from a trauma center. In a life-threatening accident, every minute is a lifetime. It is imperative that we support the trauma hospitals we do have and provide for new ones as they are vital lifelines for so many of our citizens.
We continued this week to make great strides and needed reforms in education with adoption of the ‘BRIDGE’ bill. It is time to address our high drop-out rate by giving students options other than attending a 4-year college. House Bill 905 allows schools to partner with the Department of Technical and Adult Education to offer students a chance to take traditional classroom courses while at the same time getting on-the-job training for real world, high demand jobs. School systems can choose to offer such programs to students but would not be required to do so. The legislation makes available grants to schools that do offer such career training programs. Because 30 to 40 percent of our 9th grade students never graduate from high school, I support this bill and look forward to providing a pathway for our students to become responsible members of our society.
You may have heard this week that Governor Perdue has lowered the revenue projections for this state. For us in the legislature, this means that we must revise the budgets we have been working on and make spending cuts in some areas. While this does mean we have less money to fund our priorities, I again reiterate that the House remains committed to funding our education needs and we are working diligently to get those funds to our schools. As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, I can assure you that we remain committed to funding our state’s priorities especially during this time.
I will continue to keep you up to date on our actions as the legislative session progresses. As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me at my Capitol office at (404) 656-5115.
Rep. Bob Lane represents North Bryan.