You don’t have to look far for information regarding our state’s budget crisis.
Over the past two years, the General Assembly has had to reduce our state’s budget by almost 25 percent to keep it in balance as revenues have plummeted.
Throughout that difficult process, there has often been a spirit of bipartisan cooperation and a recognition that we need to tighten our belts and make the tough choices that families and businesses all over this state are making during this difficult economic time.
Unfortunately, it appears that some Democratic leaders have decided to forego that spirit of cooperation and replace it with election-year rhetoric and political grandstanding. What these individuals will find, we believe, is an electorate that wants their elected officials to deliver solutions to our problems, not baseless partisan attacks.
It seems some Georgia Democratic leaders have a peculiar understanding of the old adage that timing is everything.
The very week that they proposed a significant income tax hike, one of their leading members wrote a column denouncing legislation providing property owners increased protection from inflated assessments.
One of the most common complaints we hear from our constituents is outrage regarding over-taxation based on the assessed value of their home. By increasing transparency and reducing the complexity of the appeals process, we think most Georgians would find reform of the property tax assessment system to be a worthy legislative initiative.
But rather than looking to the wishes of the people of our state, Democratic leaders in Georgia have turned instead to the high tax, bigger government policies being peddled in Washington by the leading lights of their party: Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid.
In attempting to sell this income tax hike, Georgia Democrats are employing the tried and true fear-mongering tactics honed by left-wing activists for decades.
We are warned of the devastation that reduced government spending will visit upon Georgia’s state-funded functions such as education, public safety and healthcare. The fact that this over-heated rhetoric is entirely predictable makes it no less irresponsible, not to mention false.
At least Democrats can claim the virtue of consistency: their tax hike plan, like most of their proposals, attempts to pick winners and losers through the tax code by punishing success, all for the purpose of redistributing funds to their favored programs and constituencies.
While we think that the legislature works for you, they seem to think that you work so the legislature can spend.
There is no question that every agency, employee, department and function of state government is being asked to do more with less, just as virtually every family and small business in our state is being forced to do.
There are currently 650,000 Georgians looking for work and many, many more that have suffered significant pay cuts. The voters we hear from overwhelmingly recognize that this economic downturn, and the financial sacrifices that come with it, will not last forever. They tell us to stay the course of fiscal restraint, rather than looking for ways to further tax our citizens in order to avoid making tough choices.
What the proponents of this income tax increase do not seem to understand is that the economic recovery will be led by private sector job creation and not government spending, and that additional taxation will only serve to prolong the economic slump.
For our part, we will continue to work on behalf of all Georgians while making the difficult choices necessary to turn around our state’s economy.
If we resist appeals for massive tax hikes and stay the course of fiscal restraint, a leaner and more efficient state government will emerge, and Georgia will be well positioned for the economic recovery we all seek.
Rep. Matt Ramsey (R-Peachtree City)
Sen. Ronnie Chance (R-Tyrone)
Rep. John Yates (R-Griffin)