Saturday, March 08, 2008

Tidbits of interest across the state & country...

Guns on College Campuses, Immigration Legislation Affects Workplace and States Take Action to Control Prison Populations
Guns on College Campuses --2008 Legislation
Ten states currently have active legislation that would permit individuals to have guns on campus. Specifically, they would need concealed carry weapons (CCW) permits to carry a weapon on a university, college or higher-education campuses. Looking at such legislation are Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Washington. Mississippi, South Dakota and Virginia proposed similar measures, but they were defeated in all three states. Arizona and Washington have legislation introduced that would prohibit individuals with CCW permits from carrying a gun on university campuses.

Illinois Democrat Wins Former Hastert House Seat
Illinois Democrat Bill Foster defeated Republican Jim Oberweis in a special election Saturday in Illinois’ 14th U.S. House District — a stunning defeat and embarrassment to the Republican Party in a race that carried outsized symbolism because it had been held by former GOP Speaker J. Dennis Hastert.
Foster, a scientist and a first-time candidate, led Oberweis by 52 percent to 48 percent in nearly complete returns after a contentious and expensive race in which the national political party organizations were active participants and both candidates spent heavily from their deep pockets.

House Sets Adjournment Calendar to Day 38:
Tuesday March 11th will be Day 30, or Crossover Day
The rest of the scheduled days are as follows: Mar. 12 is Day 31; Mar. 13 is Day 32; Adjourned, Fri. Mar. 14 through Mon. Mar. 17; Mar. 18 is Day 33; Mar. 19 is Day 34; Mar. 20 is Day 35. Adjourned Fri. Mar. 21 through Mon. March 24 (easter Weekend),. Tue. Mar. 25 is Day 36; Mar. 26 is Day 37; and Mar. 27 is Day 38. This schedule is subject to change by another resolution.

State Budget: FY 2008 Amended and FY 2009
The FY 2008 Amended Budget and the FY 2009 Budget are working their way through the committee process. The FY 2008 Amended Budget was passed by the House on February 8th and by the Senate on February 21st. A Conference Committee is meeting.
Major differences between the House and Senate versions include:
The Senate eliminated the Governor's proposal to add funding for K-12 technology infrastructure upgrades ($40.8 million).
The Senate eliminated the Governor's proposal to add funding for new school busses ($25.0 million).
The Senate eliminated the proposal by the House to pre-fund FY 09 shortfall in Education Equalization Grants ($30.7 million).
The Senate added funds to the FY 2008 debt service in order to free up funds in the FY 2009 budget to reduce the QBE austerity cut in FY 2009 ($78.7 million).
The FY 2009 budget will not be taken up by the full House Appropriations Committee until there is a Conference Committee agreement on the FY 2008 Amended Budget.
For highlights of the Governor's budget proposals, click here.

Fiscal and Tax Policy
HR 900 (The "GREAT" Plan) and HR 1246 replaced with scaled down version, SR 796. The constitutional amendment and its companion legislation HB 979 would:
1. Eliminate motor vehicle tag taxes for cars registered to an individual, reimburse local governments for the lost revenues, and implement a $10 vehicle fee on all vehicles, which would go to trauma care.
2. Freeze property assessments at 2008 levels and allow them to increase by no more than 2 percent (residential) and 3 percent (nonresidential) annually.
3. Create property tax revenue caps for cities, counties, and schools, so that revenues could exceed previous year property revenue by no more than government inflation.
SR 796 passed the Senate, but only included the assessment cap provisions at that time. The House Rules Committee added in the car tax reduction and revenue caps. Upon full implementation,SR 796 and HB 979 would have caused an estimated $672 million decrease in state revenues,according to the official fiscal note. The resolution failed to receive the two-thirds majority vote needed on a constitutional amendment on Wednesday. For GBPI overview, click here and for fact sheets, click here and here.

Assessment Caps - SR 686 and HR 3 would impose an assessment cap on property values. SR 686, which passed the Senate, freezes assessed values on residential property at 2008 levels and allows them to increase by no more than inflation annually. HR 3 restricts assessed value growth to 9 percent for every three-year period. Both resolutions are in the House Ways and Means Committee. For GBPI analysis, click here. .
Spending Limits and Restrictions - SR 20 and HR 956 would place a cap on state revenues of population growth and government inflation. SR 20 passed the Senate last year and is now in the House Ways and Means Committee, as is HR 956. SR 965 and HR 1216 require that surplus revenues are spent on only the following three items and in this order: 1) education enrollment increases, 2) Revenue Shortfall Reserve, and 3) increases in personal exemptions within the state income tax. The resolutions also change the maximum RSR from 10 percent of prior year spending to 8 percent and restrict the use of reserve funds for one-time expenses, rather than on-going programs. SR 965 is in the Senate Finance Committee, and HR 1216 is in the Tax Reform subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee. For GBPI resources, click here.

Sales Tax for Transportation - SR 845 would authorize each county and cities within the county to jointly levy an additional 1 cent local option sales tax to fund the construction of transportation projects and mass transit networks. The resolution would require the General Assembly to create by general law a regional alternative, so that counties and cities on a regional basis could levy the additional penny. Eighty percent of the new funds would remain in the special district for transportation purposes, and 10 percent would remain in the district for mass transit projects. The remaining 10 percent would flow to DOT. The resolution was passed by the Senate and is now in the House Transportation Committee. HR 1226 and its companion legislation HB 1139 would authorize the General Assembly to levy an additional state-wide sales tax penny for transportation projects. Ninety percent of the additional penny would remain in the regional commission area (RDC boundaries) in which it was raised, while the remaining 10 percent would flow to the DOT to be used in state-wide projects. Both pieces of legislation passed the House Transportation Committee.
SB 300 and HB 1161 (Transparency in Government Act) enact several budget and tax transparency measures. The original SB 300 included a tax expenditure report, a much needed reform that GBPI analyzed here. The tax expenditure report provisions were removed during the committee process, and the substitute bill was passed by the Senate. SB 300 is now in the House Science and Technology Committee. HB 1161 is in the House Appropriations Committee

SR 687 would authorize cities, counties, and school districts to levy an additional sales tax of up to 1 cent. The resolution passed the Senate Finance Committee. For GBPI analysis, click here.

SR 859 and HR 1120 would eliminate the state ad valorem tax, which will bring in an estimated $89 million in FY 2009. SR 859 passed the Senate and is in the Tax Reform Subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee. HR 1120 passed the Ways and Means Committee this week.

HB 1157 and HB 878 would raise the amount of earned income Georgia taxpayers age 62 and over can claim as part of their retirement income exclusion. Currently, seniors can exclude $35,000 of retirement income from their state income taxes, $4,000 of which can be earned income. HB 1157 would raise that earned income amount from $4,000 to $16,000, while HB 878 would raise it to $35,000. The Ways and Means Committee favorably reported HB 1157 this week, and HB 878 received a hearing in the Committee.

HB 1197 would raise the excise tax on cigarettes by $1 per pack, for a new price of $1.37. The bill is in the Tax Reform Subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee. For GBPI analysis, click here.

HB 1264 (The "BETTER" Plan) includes comprehensive tax reform measures, including a property tax circuit breaker and income and sales tax modernization. The bill is in the House Ways and Means Committee.
Several pieces of tax legislation passed the House this week, including a resolution establishing forest land conservation use, a bill to close a corporate tax loophole, and a bill to revise the film tax credit. All tax bills that have a fiscal note and have passed the House on the 30th day will be featured in GBPI's annual "Adding Up the Fiscal Notes" in the coming weeks.

No comments: