This isn’t sexy, but pay attention.

Since the legislative session ended, the Georgia Tax Council, created by the legislature, has been working on recommendations to reform Georgia’s tax code, possibly the most far-reaching reform ever undertaken. Think Barnes-style school reform for taxes, except no one has to pay the political price because non-elected experts are making the recommendations that are due no later than January 10th. (To be fair, the Council has been traveling around the state taking comment, but very few people rush out to such meetings and even fewer trust that their comments will carry any weight. )

By statute, what ever the Council recommends will get an up or down vote in the legislature, without benefit of going through the normal committee process, and without the possibility of amendments. Let that sink in a little.

According to the AJC, here’s one of the most recent items the council voted to support:

The committee voted to approve a recommendation to set aside a pot of money every year, outside the regular state budget process, that the economic development commissioner would control with oversight by the governor. The money could be doled out as incentives to companies to create jobs or new investment in the state.

I get the concept, but it sure looks like a  honey pot for the Governor and economic development commissioner to use at their discretion. With Deal’s track record on finances and advocacy for his constituents – even if it’s himself and his business partner, I have to say, this gives me pause.

Those on the Council have impressive credentials, but none of them have to stand for election. Some argue that this is the right way to approach such reform, that this takes the politics out of the decision. Take the politics out of taxes? That’s sort of like taking the sugar out of the tea, right? You just can’t. Plus, all due respect, but these folks are political appointees. They could have had their hearings, done their research, met and then brought the recommendations to the legislature to go through the normal process, but that’s not what’s happened.

The Council is now in the process of finalizing recommendations, and if you are in any way attached to your wallet, I suggest you pay attention. Party labels aside, at the end of the day, the question is, who’s pocket are they going to pick to plug the growing hole in the state budget?

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2 Responses to Death and Taxes

  1. Dave Bearse says:

    I thought it was supposed to be a tax reform council. Evidently the Georgia taxation system is not much in need of reform since the Council has time to inject themselves into spending matters.

  2. JMPrince says:

    Yes, I was dreading this Amy, but thanks for the reminder. Is it not the case that one or more of the recently (& surprisingly) approved Constitutional Amendments were meant to allow this too? JMP