Georgia lawmakers put tax-reform plan on ice

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

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50 comments Add your comment

Ed

April 11th, 2011
6:10 pm

YEP! What a loser. It neither reformed nor simplified the GA tax code. And, the middle class was clearly taking the greatest burden on.

Aquagirl

April 11th, 2011
6:12 pm

Ralston doesn’t even know if his bill would have raised or lowered taxes? Gosh, maybe those so-called experts know what they’re talking about, Mr. Speaker. You obviously don’t have a frackin’ clue.

Baker

April 11th, 2011
6:16 pm

When politicians actually deicde to make the tax code simpler, we will have made a big breakthrough.

The Federal tax code requires 10 BILLION man hours for compliance! That is an unbelievable amount of wasted productivity. It doesnt have to FAIR, it doesnt have to be FLAT, but something needs to be done.

jconservative

April 11th, 2011
6:48 pm

Ralston obviously has a problem with getting information he does not want to hear.

I am thrilled that this “tax reform” bill is dead. Georgia has a lot of problems but taxes are not one of the problems. Georgia’s problem is spending. I would love to see the legislature outlaw the word taxes from all bills for a few years and just concentrate on reducing the size of state government.

For example: with 159 sheriff departments and thousands of city and county police departments, why does Georgia need a State patrol? Why?

I Report (-: You Whine )-: Thee Magnificent!!! mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

April 11th, 2011
6:57 pm

America, 2011: A man gets driven in a motorcade to sneer at a man who has to drive himself to work. A guy who has never generated a dime of wealth, never had to make payroll, never worked at any job other than his own tireless self-promotion literally cannot comprehend that out there beyond the far fringes of the motorcade outriders are people who drive a long distance to jobs whose economic viability is greatly diminished when getting there costs twice as much as the buck-eighty-per-gallon it cost back at the dawn of the Hopeychangey Era. – Steyn

Yep and the sneerer wasn’t even born here, just sayin…

xdog

April 11th, 2011
7:14 pm

You gotta love Ralston and his co-stooges. The folks at GSU are “fiscal so-called experts”, but “we can’t tell” the impact of the bill on taxpayers.

I read this to mean “we can’t gin up numbers to support our claims”.

I read KW’s remarks as providing partisan cover for incompetence and political cowardice. Kyle, why don’t you run the column you’d intended before the “unexpected” occurred?

Just the Obvious

April 11th, 2011
7:16 pm

They tried and failed to put in the double taxation of private used car person-to-person transfers, the grossly unfair tax to put car dealers clearly at an advantage. But they will be back! Dealers will cry foul again and again! And it will be buried in some other bills, you just wait and watch.

arnold

April 11th, 2011
7:19 pm

The Republican Party is a failure.

saywhat?

April 11th, 2011
8:29 pm

no tax reform is infinitely better than bad tax reform, which this bill was, and pretty much any bill proposed by republicans will be.

Chris

April 11th, 2011
8:50 pm

The special interests like the Chamber of Commerce finally lose a round.

Too bad they’ll be back to try again. They’re relentless in their assault on the poor and middle class, and will not rest until every one of you are debt serfs.

Michael H. Smith

April 11th, 2011
9:11 pm

Everyone one of us are already debt serfs. No tax reform is infinitely better than bad tax reform: At least this time around the Republicans had sense enough to realize that fact, whereas the Democrats are apparently oblivious to this reality at all times.

You can never poorly tax the rich enough to pay for insatiable bad spending.

MoreSaidThanDone

April 11th, 2011
9:37 pm

The motto for Georgia republicans: “When all is said and done, more is said than done”. What a way to run a state. Pathetic.

Aquagirl

April 11th, 2011
9:38 pm

The Republicans declared tax reform to be a main goal this session. They have such a majority the Democrats literally are not in the room for discussions. They have a clear shot at their target.
So what happens? After 38 days of wrangling, they have a bill so mangled even the Speaker can’t say if it’ll raise or lower taxes.

Now it’s some kind of victory because they’re dumping this mess? Kyle and y’all other apologists can keep spinning all you want, but there’s no way to hide such a pathetic scene, and nowhere else to point the finger of blame. Ralston’s whine on GSU just adds the final touch of irresponsible clowning to his train wreck.

Michael H. Smith

April 11th, 2011
10:07 pm

No worse of a pathetic scene than the one left after 100 failed years of wrangling Democrats running ruining this State.

the Democrats literally are not in the room for discussions

What is that adage about payback? LOL!

Bray on Lil Dunkeys, bray on.

jm

April 11th, 2011
10:25 pm

This is a pathetic result. We count on republicans to deliver a flatter, broader, more efficient tax code and we get these shenanigans? Don’t think independents (like me) aren’t watching, and drawing conclusions for 2012.

Can Republicans show leadership? Or in 2012, if given power, are they just going to waffle, waver, and accomplish nothing again?

Michael H. Smith

April 11th, 2011
10:33 pm

This Independent is watching too and the DEMOCRATS CAN GO TO HELL!

Bring on the Libertarians. They are liberals but at least they aren’t socialists.

Jefferson

April 11th, 2011
10:56 pm

Again the GOP proves when they say they want tax reform, they are uncreditable. Their supporters looked fooled.

itpdude

April 11th, 2011
11:06 pm

Bookman has a lot more comments. Guess he gets read more.

Peter

April 11th, 2011
11:12 pm

TOKYO – Japan’s nuclear regulators raised the severity level of the crisis at a stricken nuclear plant Tuesday to rank it on par with the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

At least we don’t get tornado’s here…….

yuzeyurbrane

April 11th, 2011
11:13 pm

I hate to defend Kyle but he started saying the so-called tax reform bill should be tabled until next year as soon as there started to be doubt about its numbers. So he has been basically consistent. And I agree with him on that point. My only disappointment in Ralston’s statement was his kill the messenger attitude toward GSU. Sorry, but I trust them more than if he came up with some cooked book numbers from the Heritage Foundation.

rdh

April 11th, 2011
11:47 pm

This bill was always a gambit.
At its roots, middle income taxpayers were going to pay more… no matter what.

If it had worked, it would have attracted high income earners from other states, and the state would bring in more revenue .

If it failed, the state would be looking at even more severe budget cuts.

So, many in the legislature were willing to shift tax burden to the middle class with *hopes* of more state revenue. This was never a prescription in success, and would quite possible of hurt the state economy both in revenue, and by 500 million less in middle class spending.

That was an incredible risk that I am glad the legislature did NOT choose.

Clearlyindependent

April 12th, 2011
4:31 am

Not defending Ralston here but really question why the “experts” at GA State used 5 year old #’s to create the fiscal impact. Heck I wish I could use 2005 revenue #’s when working on my small business’ budget. And quite honestly, for all of you who hated this bill it was the Democrats who kept piling on the cloud of doubt on the bill. I don’t give them much credit, but they get partial credit for helping on this.

Vietvet

April 12th, 2011
6:24 am

Michael H. Smith “At least this time around the Republicans had sense enough to realize that fact, whereas the Democrats are apparently oblivious to this reality at all times.” Uh, Michael, it was Democrat Stacy Abrams who kept bringing up the inconvenient truths about the Republicans’ so called tax reform. So the only person who is “apparently oblivious to this reality at all times” is – wait for it – you. Now you may further prove my point by refusing to admit you were wrong, again ignoring the inconvenient fact that she outed these deceptive tax plans again and again, and instead throw a pathetic childish tantrum.

Eric

April 12th, 2011
8:02 am

Glad no “reform” happened, especially if it was going to further burden middle and poor income citizens with new consumption taxes (obviously an income tax rate decrease wouldn’t be that much help to offset). I say leave well enough alone!

JF McNamara

April 12th, 2011
8:05 am

I’m happy about this. I’m pretty sure it would’ve been a tax increase on me no matter how simple. I’m not rich, so I pretty much knew what I was getting out of the deal.

GTT

April 12th, 2011
8:06 am

Oops. Ga. State better come up with a terrific family vacation for the Speaker if they want to get back on his good side.

A Frank Zappa

April 12th, 2011
8:22 am

Kyle,

You really look silly with your willy nilly mentality when it comes to your beloved GOPers. Have you heard the latest. There’s rumors of another love triangle in the senate revolving around a Beth Merkleson. Ever heard of her. She must be hot.

Sean Smith

April 12th, 2011
8:36 am

Is it any wonder that Democrats cant work out a deal with the Republicans in Washington? Republicans cant even work out a deal with themselves when they control ALL of the government in Georgia.

Whacks Eloquent

April 12th, 2011
8:37 am

Well, I for one am glad this half-butt attempt to fix our taxes failed. Now maybe in next session they can get serious and actually eliminate the stupid income tax altogether and put us on par with Tennessee and Florida (which of course just have sales tax only). If it ain’t fair enough for the libs, I am perfectly fine with putting an even higher sales tax rate on luxury items (cars over $40k, boats, other such toys). And keep the grocery tax where it is too…that keeps the burden from being too high on the poor.

Boehner Tears

April 12th, 2011
8:44 am

This brings me to tears

carlosgvv

April 12th, 2011
8:45 am

Republican intentions to serve the rich at the expense of the middle class and the poor were just a little to obvious in this bill. But, not to worry. Their next bill will be far more devious and misleading and the rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer. And, all will be well in corporate Georgia.

mike

April 12th, 2011
8:54 am

Let’s see. Tax reform which was actually going to cause the lower and middle class more in taxes. When the numbers don’t add up, it is the Dems fault as well as the economic people at GSU. I guess if you can’t tell the truth, just spin it in a way to make it look like it was someone else’s fault.

Road Scholar

April 12th, 2011
9:11 am

Vietvet: Good rebuttal!

Sean Smith: Good point!

itpdude

April 12th, 2011
9:18 am

The anti-intellectual tendencies of the GOP can easily be summed up with this issue. When well respected economists at GSU pointed out that the GOP tax plan would cost middle-income people more in taxation, the Republicans in the GA Assembly tried to kill the messenger. They didn’t even bother with arguing with facts. They simply dismissed the GSU economists as being some sort of pointy-headed academics with a left-wing tilt.

Amazing.

Buzz G

April 12th, 2011
9:19 am

It is time to put the Tea Party in charge. The Chamber of Commerce has too much influence over this group.

Peter

April 12th, 2011
10:05 am

WOW…the Republican’s are in charge and zero happens…..

Now I guess you can blame the Democrat’s in Washington for the same thing ?

How is that ” Safe ” Nuclear Power looking today Kyle ?

JP

April 12th, 2011
10:07 am

Kyle – I usualy disagree with you on about everything, but you were consitent on this issue. Here’s my question – if the R’s don’t like GSU’s data, where are they going to get their data from? Also, where have legislators been getting this type of information before?

I am a Dem and have only been in Atlanta since 1994. We must have screwed the pooch big-time to be a permanent minority……..

Halftrack

April 12th, 2011
10:16 am

Kyle; Georgians a real happy with this. During the last minutes of the GA. Legislature no one knows what really is going on. The think they do and the Pelosize it. You have to wait till its pass to know whats in it. Tax reform bills should be well vetted by the press and public before they can be voted upon. Let’s get new rules in the Legislature for such bills in the future.

Joe Mama

April 12th, 2011
10:21 am

Mmm — “America, 2011: A man gets driven in a motorcade to sneer at a man who has to drive himself to work. A guy who has never generated a dime of wealth, never had to make payroll, never worked at any job other than his own tireless self-promotion literally cannot comprehend that out there beyond the far fringes of the motorcade outriders are people who drive a long distance to jobs whose economic viability is greatly diminished when getting there costs twice as much as the buck-eighty-per-gallon it cost back at the dawn of the Hopeychangey Era. – Steyn

Yep and the sneerer wasn’t even born here, just sayin…”

So this is your alternate reality where McCain won the 2008 election, right? (laughing) :D

He’s never generated a dime of wealth.

He’s never had to make a payroll.

He’s never had a job in the private sector

And I can *prove* he wasn’t born here.

(laughing, pointing) :D

itpdude

April 12th, 2011
10:54 am

Bookman posted an new piece at 9:30 this morning and already has nearly double the comments than in here. Wow.

Road Scholar

April 12th, 2011
11:02 am

Kyle, your next article should be on the tangible accomplishments of this Republican led/dominated legislative session. From my vantage point, it should be a short editorial! And leave out Ralston’s trip to Germany!

Swede Atlanta

April 12th, 2011
11:12 am

We need comprehensive tax reform, not piecemeal changes that have not withstood the scrutiny of arguably non-partisan subject matter experts.

When I read the bill I was immediately struck by the ad hoc nature of the changes. I guess the lobbyists for the auto repair and telecommunications businesses did not contribute enough to the Republicans during the last election cycle.

We in the state are hampered by the fact that we have a part-time Legislature that by Constitution has a limited amount of time to do the people’s business. So if anything fails to move quickly during the session the earliest changes can be expected are not for at least close to 18 months later (July of the following year).

I would like to see a clear set of objectives and then against that policy makers and subject matter experts develop serious proposals for change. Then bring this before the GA.

Will

April 12th, 2011
11:31 am

I think it was a good idea to pass on this fiscal trick at least for another year.

It is amazing that it took one legislator, the impressive Minority Leader of the House, to intially point out the fallacy of this nonsense and then to make the honest and important statement after her initial concern was acknowledged and thought to have been addressed – like Speaker Ralston, the Minority Leader could not tell if this tax legislation would be an increase or decrease in taxes paid.

I doubt many republican newspaper writers and republican radio entertainers will acknowledge the House Minority Leader’s role in putting this aside for now.

Gershom

April 12th, 2011
12:35 pm

Libs say it increaes the tax burden on all but the rich, conservatives say it’s more fair. For just once, I’d like someone to spell it all out in numbers, figures, statistics, and let us, the public, decide whether we want it or not. Untio that happens, I don’t trust any politician, regardless of political party, to be honest. All I hear are by-lines, none of which are supported by examples. Shame on y’all.

Scott Wanker, wisconsin

April 12th, 2011
1:26 pm

You get the government you deserve. What were the folks suggesting tax reform doing with the numbers before putting their proposals forward? didn’t like the numbers when they came out, so will rather not bother. you morons in the south deserve another Sherman march. But this time with Pol Pot in charge.

Peter

April 12th, 2011
3:53 pm

Gee Kyle……Seems the Republican’s can’t get anything done when they are in power..but wait they did bilk Georgian’s last year, and spend like drunken sailors.

Wow now write how Democrat’s can’t get anything done in Washington, as Republican’s screw that up as well.

Michael H. Smith

April 12th, 2011
4:04 pm

@- Vietvet,

Uh, Michael, it was Democrat Stacy Abrams who kept bringing up the inconvenient truths about the Republicans’ so called tax reform. So the only person who is “apparently oblivious to this reality at all times” is – wait for it – you. Now you may further prove my point by refusing to admit you were wrong, again ignoring the inconvenient fact that she outed these deceptive tax plans again and again, and instead throw a pathetic childish tantrum.

There is nothing for me to further prove about a tax reform deal that wasn’t good, which Kyle pointed out before hand. Oh but I know, according to you it was Stacy who deserves all the credit only she seen this thing wasn’t a good package.

Save me the melodrama, though occasionally I’m wrong and do have the intestinal fortitude to admit errors, unlike YOU and others like YOU well known for throwing piss-fits, I’ve been around too long to believe the Democrats have ever seen bad tax, unless it is one they will have to pay. After a 100 years of Democrat rule in this State, I would at least think people like YOU and Bruce – a.k.a. Brucie – Wilcox would admit that the Democrats are the sole reason this State is in the mess that it is in, which your ilk constantly berates to no end. I meant exactly what I said and it wasn’t a tantrum: The Democrats, YOUR DEMOCRATS, CAN GO TO HELL!

TRUTH

April 12th, 2011
6:08 pm

Methinks the State GOP hath seen the fury unleashed in Wisconsin and a few other states and had the better idea would be to wait and see JUST how bad the beating will be of ReThuglicans.

OH, GOP, TAX THE MIDDLE CLASS AND POOR, SO THE RICH CAN CREATE JOBS…

Allan

April 12th, 2011
10:01 pm

I say leave well enough alone and I am a Republican. The idea of adding sales taxes to services is harmful to many struggling small businesses and is regressive to the extent that it hurts hard-working middle class folks and retirees the most. If more state income is needed, start by going after delinquent taxpayers including businesses that collect sales taxes and don’t remitt to the state.

Vietvet

April 13th, 2011
5:13 am

@ Michael
Cute little tantrum, thank you for proving me right. When your logic fails, your facts are wrong, punch the Caps Lock button and blame DEMOCRATS. FYI, I was raised Republican, Eisenhower was my boyhood hero, and I prided myself on being an independent voter most of life. But the Republican Party is no longer the sane, sober, responsible party of Ike, Nelson Rockefeller, Bob Dole, etc. Believe me, I wish more Republicans were fiscally conservative, for limited government, citizens’ right to privacy, real capitalism instead of crony capitalism, supported science and technology and energy self-sufficiency. It pains me to vote for Democratic candidates who are soft on illegal immigration, big on earmarks, support endless foreign wars and useless weapons systems. Unfortunately, until the Republicans return to real conservative principles Democrats will be the lesser of two evils.