As well you know, Republicans in Georgia do not support tax increases. But fee increases are an entirely different matter.
This year’s $18 billion state budget includes $96 million in fee increases – many levied by the courts. Not to mention the unfortunately named $200 million hospital bed tax.
That same hat trick may not be so easy when the General Assembly convenes again this week. From Walter Jones of the Morris News Service:
Officials with the Association County Commissioners of Georgia said Monday that they intend to take a public stance against future fees until the state stops its practice of redirecting the revenue collected from existing fees.
Examples include fees on drunk-driving arrests for crime labs and on phone bills listed for 911 service even though none of the money winds up going to local emergency-dispatch services.
“The big issue here is when does a fee become a tax? Does it erode the public’s trust in our state government to deliver the services … when it’s no more than a bait and switch?” asked Todd Edwards, associate legislative director for the association.
In many cases, local governments have to come up with the money to pay expenses that the fees were intended to cover, from health departments to legal defense for the poor.
In other cases, the services simply aren’t provided by anyone. The state collected $17 million from a $1 tire fee intended to clean up old, illegal tire dumps, but less than $2 million went to actual cleanup. The rest went to shoring up the general budget while the Department of Natural Resources can’t afford to remove 3 million tires dumped illegally in Upson County.
The morning’s hot video features NBC’s Brian Williams describing his euphemistic experience with airport security to David Letterman. From Politico.com:
Not long ago, Joe McCutchen of Ellijay left an early morning voice-mail declaring that he would back Fox5’s “Georgia Gang” regular Phil Kent for that new congressional seat that will open up in 2012.
We contacted Kent on Monday. He said he appreciates the compliment, but he has no intention of running.
The website staff listing of the Republican Governors Association had dropped two names as of Monday: Executive director Nick Ayers, former aide to Gov. Sonny Perdue, and political director Paul Bennecke, another former Perdue aide. Both had very good years in 2010, and are expected back in Atlanta forthwith.
DeKalb County School Watch, an education-oriented website, is hot and bothered over the fact that the local system, which last night proposed the shutdown of 14 schools, still has money to give a hefty raise to a state lawmaker in its employ.
The website says state Sen. Ronald Ramsey, D-Lithonia, the system’s director of the Office of Internal Affairs, has received a $24,000 bump in salary over the last two years – to an annual $140,000.
State Rep. Doug McKillip of Athens, the former Democratic caucus chair who switched to the Republican party last month, is apparently considered a featured player by the House GOP leadership.
A fundraiser for McKillip, hosted by House Speaker David Ralston of Blue Ridge and all other noteworthies of the GOP caucus will be held at 5:30 p.m. today at Six Feet Under. Suggested minimum contribution is $250.
Republican Tim Echols, who won a statewide race in November, hasn’t stopped campaigning. From Blake Aued of the Athens Banner-Herald:
Echols, the newly elected state Public Service Commission member, bought a natural gas-powered car and installed a solar water heater at his Winterville home last month.
Both are economical, but they also will give him “moral authority” as he starts his six-year term, he said.
“It’s one thing to say it’s good,” he said. “It’s another thing to put it on your house and do it.”
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider