When the General Assembly is in session we find extra energy to make sure GBPI policy analysis reaches media outlets throughout Georgia. Our efforts made an impact on public debate during the 2013 session. Our perspectives can be found in about 100 print and broadcast news stories and opinion pieces published since early January 2013.
We’ve compiled a sampling of issues we tackled, links to the articles that appeared while the legislative outcome was still in doubt and a status update. Be sure to read the full list to learn about the legislation to abolish the income tax, filed in the last hours of the 2013 legislative session. We will devote a lot of attention to this in the run-up to the 2014 General Assembly. Our thoughts are already on record in the media.
Medicaid Provider Fee – At the outset of the 2013 session many observers predicted a plan to extend the Medicaid provider fee would set off political fireworks. About a week before the session began our health care expert explained in a front page story why approving the extension was critical for Georgia. Status update: Senate Bill 24 passed by Legislature, signed by governor.
Expanded Access to HOPE Grant – Georgia lawmakers increased GPA requirements for technical college students to receive lottery-funded financial aid in 2011. Raising the threshold to 3.0 from 2.0 caused thousands of students to leave the system in 2012. In a report that year and in the media during the 2013 legislative session our education analysts made the case for expanding access to the HOPE grant by lowering the GPA requirement. Status update: House Bill 372 passed by Legislature, waiting for governor’s signature.
New Tax Break Transparency – Georgia hands out nearly $300 million in tax breaks each year and the public has no idea if the state is getting a fair return. State Rep. Chuck Martin, R-Alpharetta introduced House Bill 454 to begin the process of creating new accountability in Georgia’s tax break programs. As the bill wound its way through the Legislature’s committee process, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution published our op-ed explaining the problem and expressing support for the pending legislation. Status update: Passed by Legislature, waiting for governor’s signature.
Unsound Sales Tax Plan – As the 2013 session of the Georgia General Assembly rushed to a conclusion, lawmakers introduced a bill to repeal the income tax and increase the state’s reliance on a sales tax. This is a bad idea. An editorial in the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer cited our analysis. Status update: The sponsoring lawmakers say they will try to move this bill forward in 2014. GBPI is gearing up now to ensure our research and analysis informs the debate over this plan.