Friday, October 17, 2008

Getting serious

In difficult budget times, I'm definitely in favor of making prioritized and targeted cuts in certain areas, but the glee shown by some Republicans when it comes time to hack away at our state budget is not only sophomoric, but also not viable.

Arguably we've got to make some tough decisions - particularly since Republicans projected a 2.5 percent increase in revenue, despite gloomy economic forecasts, and we got stuck with a $1.5 billion or so shortfall - but senseless across-the-board cuts in areas where investments have the real potential to spur future economic growth doesn't add up to me.

If we're cutting, why aren't we cutting the $30 million for 'Go Fish' or taking another look at the more than $100 million in special interest tax breaks or tax credits for donations to private schools or the litany of small local projects which, while many of them no doubt are necessary, they aren't imperative to our immediate needs?

And why aren't we looking at raising the cigarette tax from one of the lowest in the nation at 37 cents per pack by $1 to help generate $500 million in immediate revenue that can be targeted to make up the shortfall (as well as have a benefit on the public health and, ultimately, long-term savings in health care spending)?

Since Republicans love to talk about tax reform, why aren't we actually getting serious about it? Our state income tax system hasn't been properly reformed since the 1930s, meaning the top income tax bracket is $10,000 (for married couples filing jointly).

These are all serious questions, and they deserve serious answers. As of late, it just doesn't strike me as if the Republicans in Atlanta are all that serious about addressing them.


Blogger hillary said...

Must I mention, yet again, that a raise in cigarette taxes ends up being a regressive tax on the poor?

11:10 AM  
Blogger Jmac said...

It is a regressive tax, but it's also one which targets a small component of the population and has the potential to have long-term benefits on health care savings and public health.

Folks can smoke all they want, but I've got no problem in working to raise revenue from something that they shouldn't be doing anyway.

Of course, a responsible government would factor an increase in the cigarette tax with a larger tax reform package that would include a state EITC, property tax circuit-breakers, income tax code modernization, etc. and etc.

In Georgia we get blind cuts to spending or tax schemes that masquerade as power grabs.

2:03 PM  
Blogger hillary said...

But you're not raising the possibility of a beer tax. A responsible government would ignore raising cigarette taxes and just do the rest of the tax reform.

4:37 PM  

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