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Senate votes to double homestead exemtions
The people's business
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Homeowner tax relief took center stage this week with the passage of Senate Bill 83, doubling the homestead exemption from $2,000 to $4,000 with automatic adjustments for inflation. The Homestead Exemption Act became law in the 1930s. The exemption has remained at $2,000 ever since.
The adjustment proposed will protect homeowners from possible Homeowner Tax Relief Grant cuts in the future. Additionally, exemption funds would not be subject to appropriated funding decisions each year. The funds would be guaranteed to those it impacts most –– the taxpayers. I encourage my colleagues in the House to pass this bill quickly.
The General Assembly has been committed to finding the funds to provide homeowners with their HTRG for 2009. The House and Senate passed HB 143 providing HTRG funding this year. The provisions of the grant have also been adjusted to provide for HTRG when Georgia’s budget is in surplus. During this tough economy, homeowners can be assured that the General Assembly is working to bring them some relief this year as we also work toward long-term solutions.
Sen. Eric Johnson has proposed true education reform by introducing SB 90, a voucher bill to provide parents with universal public and private school choice that will improve education. Every parent in Georgia should have the freedom to choose the best school for their child.
By allowing existing funds to follow the child to the school which best meets their needs, our test scores and our ability to compete for jobs will improve. Taxpayers already provide school choice to special needs students, pre-kindergarten students and college students through the HOPE scholarship. Johnson’s bill extends that choice to all Georgia students.
The bill does have guidelines for schools and applicants which protects schools from overcrowding or drastic student reductions. Applying free-market competition to our schools creates an environment of improvement for schools, counties and ultimately students.
Georgia is one step closer to transportation reform. The transportation local option sales tax bill passed through the Senate and is now in the House for debate and passage. Transportation is not a Republican or Democrat issue; but one that affects all Georgians. The TSPLOST bill offers flexible solutions to meet the diversity of needs across the state, allowing voters to decide what projects in their area need funding the most.
The TSPLOST will generate up to $1.2 billion for the entire state. Investing in transportation infrastructure will produce jobs and a better economy, capitalizing on the relationship between transportation development and economic growth.

Williams is president pro tem of the Georgia Senate and represents the 19th District, which includes all of Long County and part of Liberty. Call him at (404) 656-0089 or email at

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