Well, that was unexpected.
State tax reform is dead — for now.
The Georgia House of Representatives had to pass the tax-reform bill today if it was to make it through the Senate before the end of this legislative session. Instead, the House leadership decided not to bring it up for a vote. The issue will have to wait for either this summer’s special session for redistricting or next year’s regular session.
Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, blamed the delay on questionable data on the bill produced by the “fiscal so-called experts at Georgia State University.” Ralston said “we can’t tell” whether the latest version of the bill would result in a tax increase or cut for most Georgians, and went so far as to say legislators would seek “alternative places” to get their fiscal estimates in the future.
Yes, that’s the tail of a Georgia State panther you see sticking out from under the House Republican bus.
Maybe the data were questionable. But there’s no getting around the fact that, whether due to opposition from tea partyers or uncertain prospects for the bill in the rudderless Senate, the bill had become a strange amalgam of various pieces pulled from the original, more far-reaching recommendations of a special council of economists and businesspeople.
When you start out with the goal of making the tax code simpler, broader and flatter, and end up instead with more progressive treatment of dependent tax credits and other deductions, to go with an awkward new tax rate of 4.6 percent next year and an even more awkward 4.55 percent thereafter, you have not achieved your goal.
Whatever the reason for pulling the bill, doing that and working on it further is the right thing to do at this point.
– By Kyle Wingfield