March 4, 2008
ATLANTA (AP) -- Days after Democrats vowed to vote as a bloc against House Speaker Glenn Richardson's tax plan, the Republic overhauled the measure in hopes it will earn the 120 votes it needs. The House Rules Committee approved the new plan today. It would no longer replace school property taxes with a sales tax on groceries and some services that are currently exempt.
Instead, the retooled 672 million dollar tax break would eliminate the car tag tax over two years and freeze property assessments, allowing only marginal inflationary increases. It also would restrict the growth of local government spending and charge a $10 fee per vehicle to bolster the state's fragile trauma care network.
The first version of Richardson's tax package -- which he called the GREAT plan -- would have eliminated most property taxes in Georgia. But it drew the ire of city, county and school officials who worried they could lose funding.
Richardson recently watered down the plan so that it would remove only the school portion of the property taxes. But even that plan ran into a roadblock. Democrats last week announced they would oppose the constitutional amendment, effectively denying it the support it needed to survive the chamber.
Richardson hopes attacking the car tag fee -- a longtime target of the Republicans -- will prove more popular. Under Richardson's plan, the tax would be eliminated by July 2011 at a cost of 672 million dollars. The lost revenue would not be offset by any new taxes. The measure is scheduled for a vote in the full House tomorrow.
Copyright 2008 Associated Press.