Oppose the gas tax now. Here’s why:
The new transportation bill (HB 170) proposed in Georgia is a bad deal for taxpayers. They want over a billion dollars more a year, but try to tell us it’s not a tax increase. It reeks of corporate welfare. There’s not even a project list for us to see – where’s the accountability? The GDOT has a history of bookkeeping mismanagement – how can we trust them?
Georgia’s Constitution requires that all gas taxes be used for roads, but this bill attempts to redefine “transportation purposes” to include “public transit, rails, airports, buses, seaports, and all accompanying infrastructure and services necessary to provide access to these transportation facilities.” Talk about expansion of big government! In Georgia, public transit is not financially viable - MARTA stays bankrupt. Public transit is a black hole for taxpayers – period. Seaports and rail are privately held business ventures.
Here’s where the cronyism comes into play:
Even though 9 of 12 regions rejected the onerous T-SPLOST tax two years ago, the law still provides for a Georgia Transportation Infrastructure Bank to facilitate Public/Private/Partnerships [read: Corporate Cronyism]. The terrible T-SPLOST law of 2012 was conceived and heavily promoted by the Chambers of Commerce. Large corporations that would profit from the projects, donated millions to promote the passage of the T-SPLOST tax referendum. But the Tea Party-led opposition foiled their plans.
So, in 2014, the Georgia legislature created The Joint Study Committee on Critical Transportation Infrastructure Funding. Of the 16 members on the Committee, three are Chamber of Commerce officials.
One highlight of their plan includes “Recapitalize the Georgia Transportation Infrastructure Bank so that a revolving, self-sustaining, loan/grant fund is created to incentivize governments, authorities, CIDs and other entities to provide matching funds for local construction of projects.”[emphasis added]
”Other entities” would be those Public/Private/Partnerships with large corporations that get those juicy no-bid contracts and loans through the Infrastructure Bank. Taxpayers get stuck with any losses, while the private corporations get the profits – hence Public/Private.
Can you imagine how much fun the cronies would have with this? We imagine it would be very easy to hide money and contracts using this bank. A taxpayer-supported loan/grant fund for unelected boards and “authorities” just doesn’t pass the smell test in America.
The bank’s board is where the POWER lies
Section 5-1 of the bill states, "’Georgia Transportation Infrastructure Bank Act,’ is amended by revising subsection (b) of Code Section 32-10-127, relating to loans and other financial assistance and the determination of eligible projects, as follows: "(b) The board shall determine which projects are eligible projects and then select from among the eligible projects qualified projects.” The power grab is breathtaking.
Local governments are outraged with the bill because it stops them from levying local gas taxes like they have been doing for local projects. The bill authors want transportation projects decided by a small power-elite at the Infrastructure Bank. I’m stunned at the audacity.
Opportunity for All, Favoritism to None!
The American free enterprise system is being corrupted before our eyes. Many of the elected legislators have been corrupted by the large construction companies’ campaign donations. The new ones we elect, who try to stop the corruption, are shunned as extremists or else co-opted into the system. It looks like it is going to be up to voters and taxpayers to stop the madness. Please make your voice heard. Contact the entire delegation representing our area.
Senator Ellis Black, Dist. 8
Cell phone: 229-251-0303
Rep. Amy Carter, Dist. 175
404-463-2248 Atlanta office
229-245-2733 local office
Rep. John Corbett, Dist. 174
607-E CLOB, Atlanta, GA 30334
Cell phone: 229-560-5305
Rep. Dexter Sharper, Dist. 177
404-656-0126 Atlanta office
Cell phone: 229-251-5238
Rep. Jason Shaw, Dist. 176
404-656-0213 Atlanta office
local office: 229-482-3505: Fax 229-482-8043
NEWS ON HOUSE TRANSPORTATION TAX INCREASE PLAN
Rep. David Stover, one of the original sponsors of HB170, has declared he no longer supports HB170 because it raises taxes. We appreciate his courage in speaking out against the very bad bill. Read his statement at the link below.
A public retreat by a sponsor of Georgia’s push for more transportation cash
The House Transportation Tax increase still doesn't have enough votes in the House to pass. The supporters of the plan are so desperate to pass this massive tax hike that they are pulling out all the stops to silence those speaking out in opposition. A very close ally of Speaker David Ralston, lobbyist Trip Martin (404.659.0001) of Blue Ridge, has filed an ethics complaint against Americans For Tax Reform for speaking out against the bill and calling it a tax increase. Americans for Tax Reform just sent out an email and wrote a blog post opposing the bill and calling it a tax increase. We believe this is just an attempt at harassment to silence ATR and the complaint has NO merit and an attack on 1st Amendment rights. This is how desperate the pro-tax Republicans in the House and Gov. Deal are to shove this tax increase down our throats. The news story is near the end of the news story below. Cleta Mitchell, the attorney representing Americans For Tax Reform, is a fine attorney that has done legal work for Tea Party Patriots.
"House Speaker David Ralston wondered aloud the other day whether anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist was violating Georgia ethics rules by campaigning against the chamber’s transportation plan.
We may soon have our answer. Our AJC colleague Chris Joyner reports that Trip Martin, the veteran Georgia lobbyist, has filed an ethics complaint against Norquist. Writes Joyner:
“I think it is a pretty strong law and people ought to abide by that registration if they are attempting to influence a bill,” [Martin] said. “I register and list all my clients and disclose all that I spend.”
Norquist’s group, Americans for Tax Reform, has slammed the transportation bill as a massive tax increase and a broken promise for those lawmakers who signed his group’s pledge never to raise taxes. Along with Norquist, Martin also said in his complaint that Paul Blair, the group’s state affairs manager, should register as a lobbyist.
In his complaint, Martin included a blog post and an essay, both written by Blair, and a story in the AJC’s Political Insider column noting the group’s opposition to the transportation bill.
In a response back to Martin, Cleta Mitchell, an attorney for Americans for Tax Reform, disputed Martin’s claim that Norquist or Blair should register. The blog post is protected under the First Amendment, Mitchell said.
“Under the scenario and interpretation you have outlined, every editorial writer, newspaper columnist, reporter, blogger, author and public policy expert who expresses a view regarding pending legislation must register as a Georgia lobbyist,” she wrote.
Legislation filed to remove Delta corporate subsidy.
We are pleased that Rep. Earl Ehrhart has introduced HB175 that would end Delta's corporate subsidy in the form of a tax credit on jet fuel. This long overdue and we applaud the efforts. It is NOT a tax increase - it is just removing a tax-payer funded subsidy that should have been removed long ago. It is ironic that Delta is calling it a tax increase and opposing it. Delta CEO Richard Anderson urged Georgia Legislators to raise the gas tax and stated they should not be "chicken" to do so. Delta seems to like tax increases on everyday Georgians, but balk when the corporate subsidy they have received since 2005 is taken away.. We need to support this very good bill.
Bill filed to remove Delta subsidy
Rep. David Stover analysis of HB175
Find Out Who's Defending Washington Cronyism
Following the money trail of the Export-Import Bank shows taxpayers are on the hook for loans to some interesting places. China, Russia, and Venezuela just to name a few.
>> See the money trail.
The Ex-Im Bank subsidizes these foreign countries to buy the goods of large American corporations and special-interests. It can even reward an aggressive foreign nation, such as Russia, which is the target of potential U.S. sanctions.
by Katie Nielsen
This September, Congress will have the opportunity to terminate a federal “bank” that doles out loans to foreign countries and well-connected major corporations while leaving taxpayers like you are on the hook for any losses.
Heritage Foundation expert Diane Katz explains that the costs of the Depression-era Ex-Im Bank outweigh the benefits:
Ex–Im advocates offer myriad excuses for maintaining government interference in export financing, including job creation, gaps in private investment, and government subsidies lavished on foreign firms. Such justifications do not stand up to the facts, and the purported benefits, if any, are not commensurate with the risk to taxpayers.
Unfortunately, Katz continues, special interests benefit from its largesse. “The bank is a conduit for corporate welfare beset by unreliable risk management, inefficiency, and cronyism.” Even then-candidate Barack Obama described it in 2008 as “little more than a fund for corporate welfare.”
This type of government interference inevitably “distorts the competitive landscape, with winners and losers determined by political considerations rather than the merit of their products and services,” Katz argues.
Do you think the Ex-Im Bank’s charter should be terminated?
The U.S. government is preparing to transfer the oversight it has had over the Internet -- oversight that has helped keep the Internet open and free -- to the United Nations.
Some countries, like Russia and China, are eager for the United Nations to take over the oversight role. That’s because they favor censorship and other limitations on online speech and commerce.
Heritage legal expert Paul Rosenzweig said in testimony before a House committee last week that lawmakers should be cautious “lest the transition destroy the openness and freedom of the network.”
Watch this video from the Foundry for a primer on the topic, then tell us in the comments: do you think the “international community” should play a role in overseeing the Internet?
Ex-Im Bank: Deferring Risk to American Taxpayers
"We help small businesses." It's a common phrase used by Washington bureaucrats and politicians. But if they knew how the economy actually worked, the bureaucrats and politicians would understand free markets, not New Deal-era manipulation, are what helps small businesses grow.
>> See how the Ex-Im Bank disrupts the free-market.
While the Export-Import Bank tries to present itself as a champion for small business it really enables big business to defer risk to American taxpayers.
The most prominent beneficiaries of Ex-Im’s subsidies are not small business.
>> Find out which "monster corporations" receive subsidies from Ex-Im.
It’s time the Export-Import Bank stopped acting as an engine for corporate welfare.