Valdosta Tea Party

Welcome to the Official Website of the Valdosta Tea Party

Yes, our state senator, Ellis Black, just voted YES on a massive tax increase. See his vote here. The new gas tax bill (HB170) just passed the senate by only 4 votes, and will now go back to the House to be voted on again. All of our local elected representatives voted for the tax increase. Read below what Rep. Regina Quick says about that bad bill. Then contact all our representatives and let them know what you think about it.

Thoughts on HB 170

-Rep. Regina Quick

HB 170 is a tax increase in excess of 700 million dollars - I understand the single largest tax increase in Georgia history.  The break-even point at which there is no tax increase for consumers at the pump is around $5.30 a gallon (unless you assume that there will be a local tax "rollback" which would move the break-even point to around $4.25 a gallon.  Those prices are pre-tax, so for the "what the customer sees at the pump total" the break-evens are near $5.70 a gallon and $4.63 a gallon respectively. 

The increase in diesel will further Georgia's competitive disadvantage with our neighboring states.  Georgia will now be in the top tier of states on the list of states with the highest gas taxes.  HB 170 also increases all allowable local sales taxes rates for items other than motor fuels.  In addition, Section 5.1 authorizes an increase in the cap on hotel/motel taxes.  This tax increase affects Georgia's second largest industry (tourism) and was neither vetted nor explained. 

Before embarking on a tax of this magnitude, actual evidence of additional need is needed.  Governor Deal outlined this process in his State of the State address.  Some regions passed TSPLOST ("Plan A") having identified a list of needs approved by voters.  There were projects identified by the executive branch prior to the session and the needs were met without any tax increase ("Plan B").  The General Assembly needed to get to work to address whether or not there were other identifiable needs and develop an approach to satisfy those needs.  ("Plan C").   The Governor explained that according to industry experts, the need is at least 100 million.....some industry experts suggest it is over 1 billion. However, no such need for an additional 1 billion dollars was demonstrated.   In fact, as many House members continually and repeatedly requested documentation of actual needed projects, the narrative shifted to maintenance with no corresponding detail.  My position is simple:  any need was demonstrated during the FY 2016 budget process.  GDOT operates with a budget of $1,003,353,791 of projected motor fuel funds, of which $891,496,632 was allocated to operations and $156,679,813 was allocated to debt service.  The total funds budgeted for GDOT (exclusive of the bond package) in the FY2016 budget was $2,546,819,211, which includes federal money coming back to the state from taxes PAID by Georgians.  Identifiable and documented need was met in the budget process with an additional 210 million in the bond package and an additional 55 million above the Governor's recommended budget for the DOT, which included by my calculations over 1 million dollars in DOT employee raises and approximately 27 million in total state employee raises.   Transportation needs were met without even appropriating the full amount of the revenue generated by the so-called "fourth penny" and the FY16 process conclusively proves that the State of  Georgia can fund transportation NEEDS by budgeting and planning.  

A certain level of documentation was not forthcoming despite requests.  The financial accountability problems in GDOT uncovered and reported in 2012 are well documented.   In my efforts to educate myself on the issues, I learned (among other things) that the State Road and Tollway Authority (SRTA) has failed to file the annual report required by OCGA 32-10-133 for 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013.  Based upon my inquires directly with SRTA, a document was then posted to the website for 2014 which frankly raised even more questions regarding the operation and functions of the Georgia Transportation Infrastructure Bank (GTIB).  I then met with SRTA officials and obtained a detailed project list.  Projects such as trails and pedestrian streetscape improvements have been funded with precious transportation dollars which may even include motor fuel funds in violation of the Georgia Constitution.  Prior to May 2014, the GTIB was used primarily for grants - a virtual "piggy bank" for North Metro Community Improvement Districts (CIDs) as opposed to loans to counties and cities.  States with successful Infrastructure Banks (like Florida) use monies for loans so that the fund becomes self-sustaining.  In fact, I understand that Florida no longer requires any appropriations from other state funds for the operation of the Florida infrastructure bank.  Prior to May 2014, there was money in GTIB, so I can only assume that no pressing "need" was demonstrated at least prior to the "crisis" newly discovered and publicized beginning in the summer of 2014.    I also learned that the State Auditor had failed to perform the audit of SRTA and review the GTIB records as required by OCGA 32-10-62.  Let me be clear - the required State audit has NEVER been performed in any year since 2009 nor has the State Auditor directly reviewed the GTIB records for compliance with the Georgia Constitution as required by law. HB 170 does not address issues  with GTIB at the same time the budget appropriates more money there.  The FY2015 amended budget alone appropriated an additional 5.6 million to GTIB.    I have now filed a comprehensive open records request with the Georgia DOT and am still compiling data.  

 Most importantly, I cannot support a "tax first" approach to problem solving.  There are three ways to generate revenue for necessary projects: 1) budgeting using natural growth, 2) eliminating special interest tax breaks and credits which serve no policy purpose and 3) taxation.  (As one example, the natural gas vehicle income tax credit which some voted to provide UPS and other large companies remains intact. There are many others).  In FY16, there was 223 million in new income from which transportation needs could have been prioritized and funded had need been demonstrated.      No one sent me to Atlanta to "tax and spend" without demanding fiscal accountability from unelected bureaucrats and therefore I was a "NO" on HB 170.


Senator Ellis Black, Dist. 8

Atlanta: 404-656-3932

229-251-0303 cell

ellis.black@senate.ga.gov

 

Rep. Amy Carter, Dist. 175

404-463-2248 Atlanta office

amy.carter@house.ga.gov

 

Rep. John Corbett, Dist. 174

Atlanta: 404-656-0287

Cell phone: 229-560-5305

john.corbett@house.ga.gov

 

Rep. Dexter Sharper, Dist. 177

404-656-0126 Atlanta office

Cell: 229-251-5238

dextersharper@yahoo.com

 

Rep. Jason Shaw, Dist. 176

404-656-0213 Atlanta office

jason.shaw@house.ga.gov


Rep. David Stover speaks out against corruption in our Georgia General Assembly.http://m.ajc.com/news/news/state-regional-govt-politics/house-republican-blasts-authoritarian-deal/nkbZW/ See this very interesting comment below the article:

JAKilgore, Brunswick

Thank you David Stover, for saying out loud what many Georgians know, but few have the courage to say.  Our Founders established a government by the people and for the people, but our state government is by the Chamber of Commerce and for the big money interests and the crony capitalists in Atlanta. 

Exhibit A is the Transportation Act, which is a Chamber creation, promoted by leadership, meaning Deal, Cagle and Ralston, with a minor assist by David Shafer in the Senate.  Of course they have their sycophants to carry the water, like Jay Roberts, but the real offenders are all of the leadership Republicans, because they are perpetrating a fraud on the people of Georgia. 

Jay Roberts and Steve Gooch Co-Chaired a Joint Study Committee for almost a year, and they are so incompetent that after all of that time and traveling all over the state of Georgia, the first recommendation from the Roberts / Gooch wizards of smart was to raise the state sales tax by $ .01.  After about 15 minutes, that brain trust realized that proposal was, in fact, a tax increase and that it may not make it through the House, so they re-grouped and came up with ANOTHER tax increase by confiscating the local governments fuel tax revenue and Ralston and Roberts stood before the people of Georgia with a straight face and said that it was NOT a tax increase.  Beautiful!  The REAL truth was laid bare, and that is no matter how many times the Republican leadership lies, it still does not make it so.

The end result is they are attempting to place the full burden for maintenance and construction of roads and bridges on the backs of the passenger car taxpayers of Georgia, while the trucking industry gets TAX CREDITS.  The Federal Highway Administration has determined that road damage is related to axle weight to the 4th power.  Therefore, a simple computation proves that one eighteen wheel truck is 160,000 time more damaging to our roads than a passenger car.  The Government Accounting Office has issued the results of a study that concluded that one eighteen wheel truck is the equivalent of 9,600 cars in terms of damage inflicted on our roads.

And the House Transportation Committee, in THIS SESSION, has passed a bill increasing the permitted weight for logging trucks in Georgia.

And then Ralston and his myrmidons coerced and threatened enough members of the House that the bill passed with 123 affirmative votes from the 180 member House.

All of that despite the Landmark Communications, Inc. poll results showing that 23.2 percent of Georgians support an increase in the fuel tax while 76.8 percent OPPOSE it or are undecided.

Does that indicate that a majority of the House of Representatives is working for someone else other than the people of Georgia? 

And today, a somewhat altered Senate version passed out of the Senate with a bare majority of another Republican dominated chamber.  Even after the Senate surgery, it is STILL a tax increase.  Worse, it includes fees on car tags that we were promised a couple of years ago would NEVER happen.  How long before our intrepid Republican leaders increase that fee from $ 25 to $ 100?

Are you feeling betrayed YET?  Have you been lied to lately?

Now is the time for ALL Georgians to send a note of thanks to David Stover, and for all TRUE Republicans to rally behind those Republicans who believe in and execute the real principles and ideology of the Republican Party.


There are so many bad bills in the Georgia legislature this year, its difficult to know where to start:

HB310 will have a Hearing Mon, Mar 23 1pm CLOB 310. It is described as "Expanded Executive Branch & Police State Coming to Georgia."

See the bill summary, information videos and talking points:www.voterga.org/events


The House version that passed was even worse. Now lets see what the House will add to the newly passed Senate version.

Here is what we said about it then:

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

Atlanta: 404-656-3932

Cell phone: 229-251-0303

Home: 229-559-7546

Fax: 229-559-1592

ellis.black@senate.ga.gov

 

Rep. Amy Carter, Dist. 175

404-463-2248 Atlanta office

229-245-2733 local office

229-245-1092 home

229-245-8890 fax

amy.carter@house.ga.gov

 

Rep. John Corbett, Dist. 174

Atlanta: 404-656-0287

607-E CLOB, Atlanta, GA 30334

Cell phone: 229-560-5305

john.corbett@house.ga.gov

 

Rep. Dexter Sharper, Dist. 177

404-656-0126 Atlanta office

Cell phone: 229-251-5238

dextersharper@yahoo.com

 

Rep. Jason Shaw, Dist. 176

404-656-0213 Atlanta office

local office: 229-482-3505: Fax 229-482-8043

jason.shaw@house.ga.gov


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.
http://politics.blog.ajc.com/2015/02/26/a-high-toned-effort-to-debunk-the-debunkers-of-a-religious-liberty-bill/

"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.

Here's Why the Export-Import Bank's Charter Needs to Be Terminated

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?

 

 

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.

  
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