Georgia lawmakers brought a tax reform package across the finish line in 2022 that will change the state’s progressive income tax to a 5.49% flat tax beginning in 2024, with triggers to provide additional rate reductions. This is an important step forward, but if the state truly wants to cement its status as a competitor in an increasingly mobile post-pandemic economy, lawmakers should consider strengthening their reforms.
The last two years have been marked by a distinct focus on state tax reform and competitiveness. Many states cut their individual or corporate income tax rates. And for good reason: The ongoing shift toward flexible and remote work has freed up both businesses and employees to be much more mobile than they ever were before. The numbers show that, by and large, people are moving out of high tax states and into low tax states with strong economies.
The revenue trigger mechanism in the 2022 bill is intended to give Georgia an edge in this competitive landscape by bringing the income tax rate down to 4.99% over time. But getting to that mark may be very difficult because of the bill’s tax trigger mechanism.
Certificate of Need laws are statutory relics. They came from a time when the federal government largely paid for new hospitals and wanted to limit how many it funded. Those days are gone, but CON is still with us.
As we prepare to welcome National School Choice Week to Georgia next week, we take a look at education choice in Georgia. A state that was once a leader in school choice has largely stood still while other states press forward to provide parents more options.
According to a new report on occupational regulations, Georgia requires relatively few licenses compared to other states, but the barriers to obtaining those licenses are relatively high.
Why did Georgia fans have such a hard time admitting they were wrong about Stetson? It would be a harder question to answer if we didn’t see it all the time, in other contexts.
A former Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency counselor was sentenced to five years in prison for stealing $1.3 million by forging educational records and creating fake students with non-existent disabilities and illnesses.
At the Capitol
Here is your recap of the second week of the 2023 legislative session in Georgia.
- Gov. Brian Kemp released his recommendations for a record $32.5 billion budget. Highlights include $1 billion for a $250-$500 tax refund and $1.1 billion for a property tax relief program that will provide, on average, $500 for every homeowner. There is also an additional $745 million in 2023 and more than $1.1 billion in 2024 for K-12 funding. There is also more than $566 million to provide $2,000 raises for all state employees, including teachers.
- Lt. Gov. Burt Jones recently named all committee chairs and members in the Senate. Sen. Blake Tillery (R-Vidalia) will again lead Appropriations with Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome) returning as Finance chairman, Sen. Ben Watson (R-Savannah) as Health and Human Services chair, and Sen. Brian Strickland (R-McDonough) as Judiciary chair.
- Sen. Clint Dixon (R-Buford) will chair Education, Sen. Matt Brass (R-Newnan) will chair Rules and Sen. Russ Goodman (R-Homerville) will chair Agriculture. You can find the full committee rosters here.
- Speaker Jon Burns has also named all committee chairs in the House. Rep. Matt Hatchett (R-Dublin) will lead Appropriations and Rep. Shaw Blackmon (R-Bonaire) will again chair Ways and Means, Rep. Richard Smith (R-Columbus) will again chair Rules and Rep. Robert Dickey (R-Musella) will again chair Agriculture.
- Rep. Butch Parrish (R-Swainsboro) will lead the new Special Committee on Healthcare with oversight of all health policy, while Rep. Lee Hawkins (R-Gainesville) will chair the Health committee and Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta) will chair the new Public Health committee. Rep. Stan Gunter (R-Blairsville) will chair Judiciary and Rep. Chris Erwin (R-Homer) will chair Education. You can find all committees here.
- Both chambers will conclude Budget Week on Friday and return on Monday, January 23, for Legislative Day 5.
State fiscal economist and Foundation Contributor Jeffrey Dorfman told state lawmakers that last year’s stock market drop could affect state finances this year. According to Dorfman, Georgia could see a $3 billion drop from last year in revenue from capital gains taxes.
Georgia lawmakers have long toyed with greenlighting an expansion of the state’s betting laws, and one expert thinks this is the year it will happen.
The 1985 Quality Basic Education Act guides the state in distributing nearly $11 billion to its 1.6 million public school students, but calls for change have been growing louder in recent years.
“Being on the ESA program has allowed us to tailor an education to meet the unique needs of our children, without giving up any control on the curriculum, textbooks, or other educational resources we use.”
Georgia taxpayers will have to pay about $5.7 million of the cost to defend the state against a lawsuit alleging voter suppression in the 2018 election.
Ohio recently became the 19th state in the past five years to recognize occupational licenses obtained in another state. Georgia is not included in that list. Movement in the South has been slower with just one state in the region (Mississippi) adopting universal licensing at this point.
Gov. Brian Kemp established a Healthcare Workforce Commission last year to help address an ongoing health care workforce shortage that is impacting nearly every county. The Foundation’s report on full practice authority for nurse practitioners and physician assistants was cited in the group’s final report.
South Carolina lawmakers could consider legislation to repeal the state’s certificate of need requirement this year.
Quotes of the Week
“If you live for the next world, you get this one in the deal; but if you live only for this world, you lose them both.” – C.S. Lewis
“Champions behave like champions before they’re champions; they have a winning standard of performance before they’re winners.” – Bill Walsh
“No one is more inferior than those who insist on being equal.” – Friedrich Nietzsche