March 4, 2008
2008 is shaping up to be the year of tax reform in Georgia. State senators and representatives are considering numerous proposals that could change the we pay our taxes. The most sweeping proposal is House Speaker Glenn Richardson's GREAT plan. GREAT stands for Georgia's Repeal of Every Ad Valorem Tax. Don't let the catchy name fool you. The plan would be anything but great for south Georgia.
Richardson wants to do away will all property taxes. He figured out he can't get enough support to do that all at once, so now he's trying to do it in phases. The scaled-back bill he introduced in the General Assembly this month would eliminate property taxes collected by school boards and taxes we pay on our cars. He would replace the lost revenue by expanding the state sales tax.
Richardson says he's doing average taxpayers a favor. What he's really doing is trying to give him and his buddies in the General Assembly more power. Local governments would have to depend on the state to dole out tax revenue instead of collecting the money themselves. With much of the General Assembly's power concentrated around metro Atlanta, you can imagine where most of that money would go. South Georgia wouldn't get our fair share.
Right now, if you disagree with the way your school board or city or county commission spends your tax money, you can call your local elected representatives and complain. And you can certainly try to vote them out of office if you think they're wasting tax money or raising your taxes unfairly. If the GREAT plan passes, you'll lose that power. Glenn Richardson is from Hiram. Unless he runs for statewide office, you'll never get a chance to vote for him, and you can bet he won't take your call if you want to complain that the state isn't sending enough tax money to your county.