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Dems Defeat Higher Homestead Exemption
Wednesday, 25 March 2009
March 25--  House Democratic Leader DuBose Porter (D-Dublin) and House Democratic Caucus Chairman Calvin Smyre (D-Columbus) voted to protect local control and public education today with the defeat of SB 83. SB 83 would have imposed a state-wide unfunded mandate on local governments that they increase their homestead exemption from $2,000 to $4,000. Effectively, this would undermine local government’s ability to pay for their schools and other critical services.


“By the state mandating that local governments increase the homestead exemption they are attempting to pass another unfunded mandate down from the state and undermine public education,” said Representative Porter. “This is another attempt to cover up the fact that Republicans have passed the largest property tax increase in Georgia history by not providing $428 million for the Homeowner Tax Relief Grants in the 2010 budget. Homeowners throughout Georgia are now going to pay an additional $200 to $300 on their tax bills this November when they are worried about paying their mortgage, utility bills and putting food on the table.”


Democrats have offered a way to pay for the HTRGs with HB 356 which allows local governments to collect their own sales taxes instead of the state Department of Revenue. In Alabama, this brought in an additional $1 billion in revenue without raising any new taxes. Republican leadership has refused to allow a vote on this bill. In this economic crisis we must be willing to implement bold new ideas and think outside of the box if we are to move forward.


“According to Representative Calvin Smyre, “The General Assembly is trying to make local governments take the hit under the cover of SB 83 which is another unfunded mandate from the state. SB 83 would be devastating to our schools that have already seen deep cuts this year. If SB 83 went into effect, cash strapped local governments would be forced into drastic action such as laying off teachers, cutting police patrols, and stopping trash pick up.”


In conclusion, Rep. Porter noted, “Republicans have already cut public education by $267 million this year bringing the total cuts to Georgia’s schools under Republican leadership to $2 billion since 2003. This is on top of not funding $428 million for the HTRGs that will further cripple local government’s ability to provide public education. Now, Republicans bring SB 83 which hurts our ability to attract quality industry to Georgia. This hurts economic development in the long run.”    

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