I have mixed feelings on this, but the tax reform plan that Republicans in the state legislature had been pushing is dead for the session. Estimates indicate that it would have been a $220 million net tax cut.
The reason I say it I have mixed feelings is because House leaders were pushing through major tax changes while essentially shooting from the hip. As I understand it, the bill was revised at least a dozen times in the week or so. That sort of fly-by-night tax reform was reminiscent of ex-Speaker Glenn Richardson’s ill-fated GREAT Plan during the 2008 session.
The problem was there was no real effort to educate the public or, at the very least, grassroots organizations – tea party groups and others. Some groups, such as the Georgia Tea Party Patriots, were able to demagogue the bill before it even really had a chance – arguing that the sales tax changes and the limitation of income tax deductions, which were later broadened to address this latter concern, would hit middle class taxpayers in the state.
The plan, which was profoundly better than the recommendations handed down by the Special Council on Tax Reform and Fairness for Georgians, won praise from Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, “The final product is something conservatives in the state can support: a serious eduction in marginal tax rates that does not grow the size of state government.” Americans for Tax Reform slammed the original version of the proposal in January as net-tax hike.
Kelly McCutchen, president of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, has also exalted the principles of the proposal, calling it a “pro-growth reform” that “will be a boon to small businesses and entrepreneurs, foster job creation and put us in a position to take another major tax reform step in the near future.”
Speaker David Ralston has said that tax reform could be part of the summer session that will be mostly spent on redistricting. Stay tuned.