Originally created 10/24/98

Georgia amendments & referenda 102498 - The Augusta Chronicle



AMENDMENT 1: Passage would up the transfer tax on real estate deeds from $1.00 per $1,000 of value to $2.00 per $1,000 of value -- a devious tax hike. The Georgia Association of Realtors says "owners of commercial, industrial, residential property, plus owners of vacant land, will be asked to pay a 100 percent increase in real estate taxes." (Example: A homeowner selling a house valued at $150,000 would pay $300 in taxes rather than $150.)

The additional monies raised would benefit a land, water, wildlife and recreation Heritage Fund. But let the Legislature continue funding such worthy programs -- and vote this down.

AMENDMENT 2: Yes. It requires that lottery proceeds be first used for the HOPE scholarships, pre-kindergarten programs and a 10 percent education reserve fund. Any remaining lottery funds could be used only for teacher training in computer technology and for capital education outlays.

AMENDMENT 3: This poorly-written proposition would allow increasing fines for driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs, and to use those funds specifically to provide medical services to citizens with brain or spinal injuries. But it doesn't specify that injured persons must have obtained their injuries as a result of an offense involving DUI. In other words, a person who suffers such an injury from diving into a shallow swimming pool or falling down stairs could have treatment paid through this fund -- and that's wrong.

AMENDMENT 4: This OKs a roadside enhancement and beautification fund with revenue from vegetation trimming, removal permits paid by sign companies and from prestige license plates. The worthwhile purpose, plus the absence of any unrelated mandatory tax increase, merits a "yes."

AMENDMENT 5: Thumbs down! This creates a commission that would recommend to the Legislature salaries for virtually all statewide officers. The proposals would become law unless they are rejected by the Legislature -- a cowardly, wrongheaded approach. A better idea would be to have such a panel make recommendations periodically, which the General Assembly would then have to enact.

REFERENDUM A: Vote no. This exempts farm products from ad valorem tax. Remember that, as a property or even vacant land increases in value, so does its ad valorem tax burden. This would be a tax break for one segment of accumulated wealth that is not available for others.

REFERENDUM B: Yes. As long ill people remain homeowners, but for health reasons must live elsewhere, they should not be deprived of an exemption available to everyone else.

REFERENDUM C: The law currently exempts churches from ad valorem taxation. By the same logic, the law should apply to other religious entity properties used in connection with religious activities -- so vote "yes."

REFERENDUM D: There is already an ad valorem tax exemption for motor vehicles owned by disabled veterans. So why not vote "yes" and extend this same tax exemption to vehicles leased by disabled veterans?

REFERENDUM E: This calls for granting exemption from ad valorem taxes for motor vehicles owned by former prisoners of war. This is a small but worthy class of citizens who made extraordinary sacrifices for the benefit of the nation, so we urge approval.