Last week, the House has crossed the 30th day of our 40 day legislative session. This is the day that a bill must have passed at least one body in order to have a chance of becoming law. A huge surprise was a second opportunity to vote on tax reform for Georgia’s citizens.
You may recall that last week an effort in the House to allow Georgians to vote to eliminate the “birthday tax” on personal vehicles failed in the House. House Resolution 1246 was amended to reflect changes in the original proposal that failed last week. The new tax cut bill will give Georgians the chance to vote to eliminate the “birthday tax” on personal vehicles over a two-year period, eliminate the state’s portion of the ad valorem taxes on personal vehicles and property, and cap assessments on personal property at 2 percent per year and commercial property at 3 percent per year. This version of the bill does not include any new taxes and does not include a cap on the growth of local governments. When fully implemented, Georgians will enjoy significant tax savings.
Another casualty of last week’s vote was the funding mechanism for a statewide trauma care network. That proposal was also brought back before the House in a separate measure. If Georgians vote in November to eliminate the car tax, a separate measure passed this week would apply a $10 fee on every vehicle registered in Georgia so that we can fund a statewide trauma care network. When registering their vehicles with the state, Georgians would pay the current $20 registration fee plus $10 toward trauma care. We are fortunate to have a trauma center nearby in Savannah that treats the most seriously injured and indigent patients in our state.
Unfortunately, there are large areas of our state that are hours from a trauma center. In a life-threatening accident, every minute is a lifetime. It is imperative that we support the trauma hospitals we do have and provide for new ones as they are vital lifelines for so many of our citizens.
We continued this week to make needed reforms in education with adoption of the BRIDGE bill. House Bill 905 allows schools to partner with the Department of Technical and Adult Education to offer students a chance to take traditional classroom courses while at the same time getting on-the-job training for real world, high demand jobs. School systems can choose to offer such programs to students but would not be required to do so. The legislation makes available grants to schools that do offer such career training programs. Because 30 to 40 percent of our ninth grade students never graduate from high school, I support this bill and look forward to to providing a pathway for our students to become responsible and contributing members of our society.
In other news this week you may have heard that Gov. Perdue has lowered the revenue projections for this state. For us in the legislature, this means that we must revise the budgets we have been working on and make spending cuts in some areas. While this does mean we have less money to fund our priorities, I again reiterate that the House remains committed to funding our education needs and we are working diligently to get those funds to our schools.
I will continue to keep you up to date on our actions as the legislative session progresses.