I voted YES for HB 170 (Transportation Funding Act of 2015) and below you can read my explanation.
Regardless of party lines, I was really proud that Republicans and Democrats came together to pass HB 170 and fix Georgia’s transportation problems. These issues have been kicked down the road for decades without an option to fix them. It wasn’t an easy decision for me to vote yes, but I realized it’s difficult to always get the perfect bill that you want. By Sitting back and doing nothing would only dig the hole deeper and hurt our childrens’ future by forcing them into a position of repairing and restoring what could have already been done. I will not allow America and its future to be harmed in any way, when I can do something now, instead of refusing to fix and delay current issues for later down the road. If we want to remain the #1 state in the Nation in which to conduct business, then we must maintain our roads and fix the traffic issue that continually hinders even everyday functions. Our transportation committee, led by Rep. Jay Roberts, traveled all over the state and saw firsthand, the dire need of repairs and maintenance required for Georgia’s bridges and roadways. Many of these bridges had been deemed functionally obsolete and structurally deficient; therefore, funds are crucial in guaranteeing that our roads and infrastructures are safe for our loved ones to travel on.
The main reason I supported the bill was because it provides a dedicated tax, exclusively for transportation; previously, Georgia did not entirely use this type of tax.
Function / Purpose:
The 4th penny will be moved directly to the transportation fund to be collected at the pump instead of the general fund. This Legislation will also help decrease our dependence on federal funds from a government that is not committed to balancing a budget, unlike the state of Georgia. By converting to an excise tax dedicated for this purpose, we have a tax that won’t fluctuate based on the price of gasoline. This excise tax will not be used for other expenditures in the general fund; which was previously being allowed. I support a flatter, more transparent taxing system in which all citizens equally pay. This may be as close as we can arrive at a “user” fee or consumption based tax for the use of our roadways.
Other funding sources in the Transportation Funding Act include the establishment of a user fee for alternative fueled vehicles. This will be $200 for non-commercial and $300 for commercial vehicles each year. Since these vehicles do not use gasoline, their owners would not be payiny their share of taxes devoted to the maintenance of the roads that they use. This fee will provide equity among those who drive on our roads, and ensure everyone pays their fair share to keep our roads safe. HB 170 will also eliminate the state tax credit for the purchase of alternative fueled vehicles (saving Georgia $45 million), as well as the state tax credit on jet fuel (saving Georgia $25 million), which was established several years ago in a struggling economy where companies were in jeopardy of bankruptcy.
Converting to an excise tax on motor fuel allows Georgia to participate in the International Fuel Tax Agreement that may generate up to $60 million in new revenue by removing an incentive for our trucking industry to make fuel purchases outside our state.
I’m also currently working in support of HB 435, which would cut our income tax from 6% to 5.25% by eliminating all itemized deductions, except charitable contributions and mortgage interest up to $20,000 per year.
Another bill I support is HB 445 which will reduce the income tax from 6% to 4%, increase the state wide sales tax to 5% and impose that tax on a greater number of goods and services, including food.
Eliminating the income tax is a top priority of mine; and I’ll be doing everything I possibly can to achieve this goal. Ultimately, the Fair Tax is my dream for this country and state.)
At the end of the day, transportation is a core Constitutional government function rightly funded via taxation. I am also working daily to eliminate unnecessary spending, improperly used tax exemptions, credits, and reduce taxation.
As leaders, we must make some tough choices; it’s not always easy, but my country’s future means everything to me. Transportation is a crucial part in maintaining a prosperous and secure economy. It would have been easy to vote NO on this bill, but from all the evidence I believe that the transportation NEEDS are too DIRE to neglect any longer.
“I’ve often heard the complaint from both Democrat and Republican voters alike that they hate the fact that politicians get into office and they’re fearful to make tough decisions because they think more about the next election than they do about the next-generation.”
Thank you all for allowing me to serve as your voice at the Capitol; I truly hold it with the highest honor.