Regarding the new vehicle tag fee law: I am all for eliminating taxes, fees and other means of taking money from the people. That said, Georgia government is distended with bureaucracy and fraud, and that should be tackled simultaneously. Politicians love to beat the tag tax drum because it is popular with much of the citizenry, but do they really understand the issue?
A few years ago, the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute’s paper “With H.R. 1246, Georgia About to Pile on to Virginia Fiscal Car Wreck,” a response to then-Georgia House Speaker Glenn Richardson’s proposal to eliminate the tag tax, sounded the alarm – something about doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
Virginia eliminated the car tag local tax in FY 1999. “The cost of the reductions grew from $181 million in 1999 to $950 million by 2007… A $1 billion hole appeared in the state budget, which almost exactly matched the amount of money the state was sending to localities to reduce the car tax,” the GPPI said.
As a result, 12 Department of Motor Vehicle offices were closed; no state funds were provided for sheriffs to hire deputies; the community mental health system’s budget was cut by 10 percent (2003); state psychiatric facilities’ budget cut by 15 percent (2003); and in 2001 there were $275 million in cuts to state colleges. Since 2001, the Government Performance Project has noted the negative consequences of the Virginia car tax reduction in every issue of its “Grading the States.”
This red herring to distract us from the transportation special-purpose local option sales tax fraud that was embraced by the state’s and many local chambers of commerce (you remember the yard signs along roads) – and spun in a devious misleading fashion by local Georgia Department of Transportation member Don Grantham and Columbia County Commission Chairman Ron Cross – will cause problems similar to Virginia’s.
In February 2012 the Georgia DOT was cited for its fourth consecutive year of financial mismanagement, and by using the good ol’ boy system, TSPLOST was put on the ballot, and then the Crosses and the Granthams traversed Georgia to tout a tax increase. Local legislators should have fought tooth and nail to keep this off of ballots and to hold the DOT accountable.
Keep electing the same old clique, but refrain from complaints when its consequences are before you.