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Tax reform is needed

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POSTED: April 10, 2008 5:00 a.m.
Last week, the Senate gave careful consideration to two issues that will significantly affect you and every Georgian - tax reform and the state budget.
As public stewards of your tax dollars and the state's funds, the importance of the legislature using that money wisely cannot be overstated. If you've been keeping up with the news under the Gold Dome, you've no doubt heard the debates over tax reform and that the Senate announced its version on Tuesday.
It's clear that Georgians need tax relief. Our challenge is deciding upon the most fiscally responsible approach in providing relief to our constituents while also benefiting the economy and a balanced budget.
Let's first take a look at tax reform. The plan announced by the Senate last week constitutes the largest tax cut in Georgia's history. I am proud to announce that we have developed a plan that will give every working Georgian a 10 percent income tax cut. The goal here is to provide broad, immediate and fair tax relief to every working citizen in Georgia.
The cuts will be phased in over five years in equal, annual installments, beginning July 1. This will deliver over $3.5 billion to Georgia taxpayers at full implementation. We want to give hardworking Georgians the opportunity to keep more of their money and decide how to spend it, which in effect will stimulate our economy.
_I appreciate that the House of Representatives chose to undertake this critical issue to address the fact that Georgia needs tax reform. Their measure calls for the elimination of all ad valorem taxes in Georgia on motor vehicles. Both plans have their strong points, and now it is our job to work together in developing a final plan that will benefit our state and our citizens.
There will be much more deliberation on this issue through the rest of session. The Senate is committed to working with the House to make sure we create a tax policy that will provide the help that hard working families in Georgia need.
Stay tuned for further developments in this important debate of ideas.
New developments have arisen in budget negations as the Senate and House passed their respective midyear budgets on Thursday. The legislature passed a strong amended budget with funding for a number of critical issues, beginning with $40 million for building new reservoirs and $500,000 for repairs. These funds will go toward enhancing the state's water storage capacity to help prevent future drought.
The budget also includes over $58 million for trauma funding, $20 million in equalization funding for education and $2.7 million to help fund the indigent defense system. New funds have been added for mental hospitals, child welfare services and PeachCare. I am pleased that we have agreed upon a budget that addresses the most critical needs of our state and will provide significant relief in needed areas._
We have only six legislative days left before the end of session, and we are scheduled to reconvene in the Senate Chamber on Thursday. This will allow time for further budget negations on the FY 09 budget and for committees to work on moving more legislation. We will continue to work hard to come to agreements on tax reform and I'm sure the pace will quickly increase as we head for the final days of this year's session.
As always, please contact me in my office on the issues that are affecting you and your area.
 
Williams is Senate majority leader and represents the 19th Senate District, which includes Long County and part of Liberty. He can be reached at (404) 656-0089 or by email at tommie@tommiewilliams.com.
 

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