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Legislative update: ‘Tax reform and spending go hand in hand’

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POSTED: March 16, 2008 5:00 a.m.

The 2008 legislative session is now more than half way complete but much important work remains. Key issues that we still must address are tax reform, a budget that is fiscally responsible and meets the needs of our citizens, and transportation. Last week the House Ways & Means Committee approved several tax reform measures. With tax reform must come spending reform and last week we also laid out our spending priorities for the Fiscal Year 2009 budget.

The Speaker’s proposal for property tax reform took another step forward this week winning approval of the House Ways and Means Committee. The committee also considered legislation that would designate ‘franchise fees’ as a tax and another bill that would allow local sales tax revenue be spent on capital outlay projects for charter schools. Support for tax reform and tax relief is widespread and debate continues as we seek consensus on the best course of action for Georgia.

I believe that tax reform and spending reform go hand in hand. At a press conference last week, members of the House Appropriations Committee laid out our spending priorities for the Fiscal Year 2009 budget. With a nearly $22 billion budget and 9.5 million Georgians, our task to balance the needs of the state with conservative fiscal policy is never easy. The House is committed to fully funding $141 million in austerity cuts in education and also focus on health care, public safety and natural resources.

You may recall a few weeks ago the House passed the Fiscal Year 2008 Amended Budget. In our budget, we included $25 million for new school buses, $40 million for technology improvements in our schools, and $30 million in equalization grants for schools. Unfortunately, the Senate disagreed with our spending priorities and instead chose to fund other non-priority items. As House and Senate members are meeting to complete the work on this budget, the House is standing firm in our resolve to fund our state’s education needs.

Georgia is a large state with many transportation needs in both our urban and rural areas. This week, the House adopted House Bill 1019 authorizing the creation of the Georgia Transportation Infrastructure Bank. The bank will provide low interest loans to communities across Georgia for transportation projects. As the state struggles to find funding to meet all of our transportation needs, this bank provides communities with viable funding options to move ahead with local projects.

Last week, the House adopted legislation I introduced to help protect Georgia’s blue crab industry by extending a prohibition on the harvest of female blue crab. House Bill 1016 was approved by the House and now awaits a hearing in the Senate Natural Resources and Environment Committee.

I will continue to keep you up to date on our actions as the legislative session progresses. As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me at my Capitol office at (404) 656-5115.

 

Lane represents North Bryan County.

 

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