Posted: 10:21 am Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

Nathan Deal: Talk of gas tax hike is ‘premature’ 

By Greg Bluestein, Daniel Malloy and Jim Galloway

State lawmakers are wrestling with ways to fill a $74 billion transportation funding shortfall in the next two decades. Gov. Nathan Deal doesn’t seem to think raising the state’s 4 percent motor fuel sales tax is a solution.

The governor said it’s “premature to be talking about an increase in taxation.” Said Deal:

“I want to see what the study committee comes back with. To be talking about an increase in the gas tax means that you’re going to have to have enough votes for the General Assembly to pass it. It would be interesting to see what the members of this study committee recommend.”

Your daily jolt on politics from the AJC's Political insider blogY0u can assume it won’t be a tax hike. So what other methods could they be examining?

One possibility could involve directing the fourth penny of that fuel tax, about $180 million that’s now diverted to the general fund, toward transportation projects. Another could give local governments more power to raise sales taxes for transportation.

***

Former state lawmaker Edward Lindsey of Atlanta, a member of that transportation task force in search of dollars, has an argument posted on GeorgiaPundit.com with a biblical beginning:

Two thousand years ago there was a thriving commercial center and port on the coast of Asia Minor (modern day Turkey) called Ephesus. In order to maintain its viability, the port had to be regularly dredged of silt deposits washed in by the Cayster River. Over time, however, the Ephesian government lost the will to maintain its port’s infrastructure, and, as it turned to marshland, the once mighty commercial center withered into ancient ruins.

… The question before us now is how to upgrade our transportation infrastructure to meet our growing needs created by our earlier successes, because urban areas – even historically great ones like Ephesus or Metro Atlanta – are perpetually either in a period of growth and greater prosperity or steady decline. There is no standing still. Either we meet the infrastructure needs of our community or we slowly wither and die.

The historical comparison is an apt one. As Lindsey said, Ephesus, which gets a mention in the Book of Revelation, sat along the Cayster River. Which is also known as the Meander River, whence we get the word for blundering about without goal or purpose.

***

Both Gov. Nathan Deal and Democrat rival Jason Carter are making a whistlestop tours of schools across the state this week to welcome students back to classrooms.

You can bet Carter’s campaign will have reminders of past budget pain at the ready each step of the way.

Deal visited Henry County’s Timber Ridge Elementary on Tuesday. Shortly after he left, we received an email from Democrats noting that tight budgets forced the county to furlough teachers for five days the last school year, and adding that the school system lost 69 teachers since 2009.

***

Georgia’s Medicaid rolls are growing, but by how much depends on who’s doing the counting. From well-known health reporter Andy Miller:

Federal figures show Georgia’s Medicaid and PeachCare enrollment jumped 16 percent since October – the highest percentage increase among states that have rejected the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

The Georgia jump greatly exceeds that of the second-highest increase among non-expansion states: 9.5 percent in Montana….

Yet Georgia Medicaid officials Monday released figures that showed a much smaller percentage hike in Medicaid and PeachCare enrollment since October – 5.6 percent, rising by more than 100,000 to almost 1.9 million members.

***

Opponents of a federal proposal that would force online retailers to collect sales tax on some purchases have fresh ammunition.

A statewide poll by the National Taxpayers Union and the conservative R Street Institute found that 57 percent of likely Georgia voters are opposed to the Marketplace Fairness Act, which passed the Senate last year but was bottled up in the House.

“Any candidate who had numbers like this Internet tax collection scheme would have to seriously reconsider his or her political future,” said Pete Sepp, the union’s president.

The fate of the act has already surfaced in Georgia’s Senate race. GOP nominee David Perdue’s Republican rivals attacked him for supporting the controversial proposal, though he has now said he would not vote for it.

The bill has the backing of many local leaders — including Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal — and brick-and-mortar retailers. Conservative groups, and much of Georgia’s GOP delegation in Washington, view it, in effect, as a tax hike.

One solution some opponents are pushing is an origin-based principle that bases the tax collections on the location of the seller and not the buyer. But critics of that plan say it would simply drive online retailers to states that have no sales tax.

(The statewide survey of 400 likely Georgia voters was conducted June 2-3 by live telephone interviewing, and the margin of error was 5 percent.)

***

Following Michelle Nunn’s first attack ad in the U.S. Senate race, the Georgia GOP released a lengthy rebuttal.

It pointed out that, even as Nunn hit David Perdue for outsourcing at his companies, Nunn had a fundraiser thrown for her by John Rice, who oversaw the overseas operations for a big-time outsourcer, General Electric. Also, Sam Nunn served for 16 years on GE’s board after he left the Senate, pulling in millions.

The Republicans also tried to deploy Politifact against Nunn, but it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison. Politifact rated “mostly false” an accusation from a Jack Kingston ad that: “Perdue mismanaged Pillowtex, and nearly 8,000 people got laid off.” Why?

“It was a firm in bad shape that hired a business leaders known for rejuvenating industries – often through job losses.

“Investors don’t view that strategy as mismanagement, even if populists would object to it. Kingston would have been on firmer ground to make the populist point and let voters decide the merits.”

The Nunn ad states: “He was CEO of another company that went bankrupt. Thousands lost jobs, but Perdue made millions.” The same caveats apply — Pillowtex was emerging from bankruptcy when Perdue arrived, then it went under again after he left — but Nunn does not go as far as Kingston with the “mismanagement” accusation that earned the Politifact wrist slap.

***

As part of mending ties after the primary, U.S. Senate candidate David Perdue has removed from public Internet view some of his rougher GOP primary stuff, such as this attack ad on Jack Kingston from the runoff.

But fear not, the “Babies” ad lives on.

***

Ending Spending Action Fund is keeping up its anti-Michelle Nunn TV buy, reporting another $114,433 in ad time to the Federal Election Commission. The Super PAC now has spent $1.3 million going after the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate this year, in addition to the primary attacks on Rep. Phil Gingrey.

***

NRCC's fake news site targeting John Barrow (via National Journal)

NRCC’s fake news site targeting John Barrow (via National Journal)

The National Republican Congressional Committee is getting into the news business, sort of.

National Journal had a fascinating scoop Tuesday about how the committee is going after Rep. John Barrow, D-Augusta, and other vulnerable Dems by creating fake news sites and targeting local web searchers.

Here’s how it works:

The NRCC’s single-page sites are designed to appear to be a local news portal, with logos like “North County Update” or “Central Valley Update.” The articles begin in the impartial voice of a political fact-checking site, hoping to lure in readers. “We’ll take a look at her record and let you decide,” starts one. Then they gradually morph into more biting language. At the very bottom, in a box, is the disclaimer that the NRCC paid for the site.

“This is a new and effective way to disseminate information to voters who are interested in learning the truth about these Democratic candidates,” said Andrea Bozek, communications director for the NRCC.

Political strategists on both sides of the aisle say voters have generally grown weary and dubious of political attacks that are accompanied by dark clouds and ominous music. Wrapping an attack in the innocuous language of fact-checking, then, makes it more likely to sink in.

The NRCC got in trouble last year for making fake campaign pages for their targeted Democrats, in apparent violation of campaign finance law. Again, from the National Journal:

Just as the NRCC did last year with the faux-candidate sites, the group is promoting its look-alike news sites through Google search ads. So when a voter in Democratic Rep. John Barrow’s Georgia district, for instance, searches the congressman’s name on Google, the first ad that shows up leads to the faux news site.

The URL that appears in the ad is www.electionupdate2014.com and the text says “Find Out More About John Barrow. We’ll Provide The Facts: You Decide.” Once a person lands on the page, the banner at the top reads “Augusta Update” (a city in Barrow’s district) and the article begins, “Today, we’re reviewing Barrow’s record to see if his campaign rhetoric matches his record.”

The rest of the site is less charitable: “That kind of record doesn’t sound like someone who puts Georgia first. It sounds like someone who has put President Obama ahead of his constituents.”

National Journal’s Shane Goldmacher ran this tactic by campaign finance experts, who said it does not appear illegal — though Democrats are, of course, raising a fuss.

Bozek’s retort to NJ: “They’re just jealous,” she said, “that they didn’t think of this strategy first.”

 

***

Funeral services will be held Thursday at the Rochelle, Ga., United Methodist Church for former state representative Newt Hudson, a 20-year south Georgia veteran of the state Capitol who left office in 2003.

We were looking for a photo of Hudson and came across this 1999 snap, labeled “Uncles.” The caption explains all:

(Left to right) State Sen. Billy Ray; Billy Ray's uncle, state Rep. Robert Ray; state Rep. Scott Dix; and Scott Dix's uncle, state Rep. Newt Hudson. AJC/Charlotte Teagle

(Left to right) State Sen. Billy Ray; Billy Ray’s uncle, state Rep. Robert Ray; state Rep. Scott Dix; and Scott Dix’s uncle, state Rep. Newt Hudson. AJC/Charlotte Teagle

61 comments
Joeyfalcon32
Joeyfalcon32

gas 1.25/gallon. Americas first step toward a true economic recovery that involves the middle class... Google it....

Starik
Starik

"Boy it's really getting a bit sporty out there. To intimate that one party or the other has a solid grip on the truth is quite a stretch. Face it, when you put your faith in a politician you get what you get. Vote 'em all out."

...But when one is voted out another one is voted in. 

td1234
td1234

And this is the exact type things we could look forward too if another Carter would be elected governor of GA. 


"Former President Jimmy Carter is back, this time proposing a carbon tax to fight global warming and calling out skeptics.

“We need something like a carbon tax,” Carter told an audience at a renewable energy conference in Colorado, FOX31 Denver reports. Carter said that such a tax was “the only reasonable approach” to fighting global warming.

Carter also blamed those skeptical of global warming for blocking attempts to regulate carbon dioxide emissions, and lamented that it was unlikely any landmark climate legislation would make it through a partisan Congress.



Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2014/08/13/jimmy-carter-carbon-tax-the-only-reasonable-solution-to-global-warming/#ixzz3AIp2ivrL

honested
honested

Governor shady suggests discussion of bridge collapses 'premature'.

Governor shady suggests assessing costs of suspension and tire damage from crumbling roads 'premature'.

ETC.

SouthernDem
SouthernDem

Nunn's campaign is starting to look ridiculous. Clearly, she's chosen a crew of campaign workers who are ineffective and possibly incompetent. They can't even keep confidential memos safeguarded. And her campaign people seem to be getting constantly outfoxed, outsmarted, and checkmated at every turn by Perdue's vastly more experienced folks. Note to Nunn campaign: This is a Senate race--not an election for president of the Dunwoody Garden Club. Get this campaign together people.

Meanwhile, "premature" really means not until after the election, when Deal will plead his case in the press, claim there are absolutely no alternatives to a tax increase, blame Obama, then initiate a whopping gas tax increase that he had in mind all along. Republican politics as usual.

Jefferson1776
Jefferson1776

The tobacco settlement money doesn't go to smoker's health problems like it should, instead they pay multiple times,  and the tire disposal fee is used for something else,  so why would a gas tax matter ?

CreamofBuckwheat
CreamofBuckwheat

Why is that we must accept that raising taxes is the only solution to our problems? Where has all the money gone that has been collected and who is accountable in gubmint? These guys are addicted to spending other peoples' money and have connections taking the money. However, there will be no increase before the November elections. I am thinking of moving to a rising third world country before the last super power is flushed down the crapper for all of this social justice and taxation. 

honested
honested

Well it's nice to know that sonny's cousin would vote AGAINST local, brick and mortar small businesses and FOR international conglomerates and teklan nuts.

What universe exists where necessary services can be funded without revenue?

The exemptions from taxation for internet sales should have included language to provide an irrevocable end within 5 years, since obviously the republiklans don't have the courage to protect the interests of communities and the Small Business Taxpayers within those communities!

MoFaux
MoFaux

How to fix our transportation funding:


We need to collect fair taxation across the board.  Currently, electric vehicle drivers pay zero to support our transportation system (except when they buy gas for their lawn mowers).  Hybrid drivers and newer cars are getting better gas mileage each year.   This problem will only get worse.


To fix this, we need to implement a user-based system that calculates how much you drive and what type of vehicle you drive (weight/class-based) to determine your level of taxation.  Two cars that weigh around the same amount cause roughly the same amount of wear and tear on our roads, and therefore should be paying the same amount of taxes if they drive the same distance.  So, the MORE you drive and the MORE your vehicles weigh, the MORE you pay in taxes to maintain our roads.  Trucking companies should not be getting a pass/subsidy on this either, as they are causing much of the wear and tear.  This should be implemented at the federal level and be required that every state use the same system.


The gas tax itself is antiquated and is NOT a sustainable funding mechanism for transportation moving into the future.

72GDawg
72GDawg

"Which is also known as the Meander River, whence we get the word for blundering about without goal or purpose."

Did not know that, goes to show ya can always learn something new.

I believe most of us who drive in the metro would accept a penny or two increase in the motor fuel sales tax as the price for kicking road and bridge work into high gear. If something doesn't get done soon we're going to suffocate in this traffic.

Quandry
Quandry

@NWGAL

Well said… it’s obvious you are well educated.  I agree with you 100%.....

Yorick
Yorick

One penny of the gas tax goes to the general fund? That's odd. Seems to me that the gas tax is a use tax, and should fully fund, but only fund, transportation projects, primarily roads.  

Quandry
Quandry

@tinala

I agree with your statement

Deal wouldn't dare touch any kind of tax increases nor would any representative running for political office.”

But let me ask you – is there such a thing as an honest politician?

Candidates will say anything to get your vote – and if it works and they get elected and if they don’t make good on their promises – it’s the other guys fault.It’s a classic game of bait and switch.

This happens on both sides of the political aisle.

Sometimes the voters must simply pick the lesser of the two evils or hold their noses while they make their final selection(s).

DS
DS

Very interesting info in health reporter Andy Miller's article.

"Georgia’s decision not to expand Medicaid will cost the state’s hospitals $12.8 billion in lost reimbursements over a 10-year period."

By refusing to accept Medicaid expansion, which we're already paying for in our Federal taxes, our elected officials are killing our hospitals. The cost of providing care to uninsured patients is driving our hospitals into bankruptcy. That $12.8 billion that our politicians are refusing would save our hospitals, which would also save jobs and save lives in Georgia.

About 20% of Georgians are uninsured. As other states like Arkansas and Kentucky have accepted Medicaid expansion, Georgia has moved up to third place in the list of states with the highest percentages of uninsured, behind Texas and Mississippi.

Our elected officials are failing Georgia.

tinala
tinala

Deal wouldn't dare touch any kind of tax increases nor would any representative running for political office. I really hope and pray that DEAL isn't elected again. He was untruthful in his ethics hearing and then giving educators only one choice with a medical provider. I just wonder how much money went into DEALS pocket to pull that one off. Now that he's running for re-election he wants to give us all the choices in the world to choose from for our medical providers. No More DEAL!

Kamchak
Kamchak

“I want to see what the study committee comes back with. 

Privatized roads.

DS
DS

@td1234

I think he's right, although I would prefer a cap and trade program rather than a carbon tax. But both are workable. We've had great success with our acid rain program, which uses cap and trade.

How do you think we should reduce carbon emissions and fight climate change?

td1234
td1234

@honested We should be discussing how to better spend 25 to 30% of the states budget to fix the bridges and roads. 

Baumer_1
Baumer_1

@SouthernDem


What makes you think she is running to win?


In campaign like hers, where everyone knows victory is out of the question, you use the campaign to give easy jobs to patrons and circulate donor funds to vendors.



NWGAL
NWGAL

@Jefferson1776 When the function of government is to funnel money into the pockets of politicians' friends, then no, a gas tax wouldn't matter. One party rule is an invitation to corruption.

honested
honested

@CreamofBuckwheat 

Have such a problem with appropriate taxation?

Fine, move to a place that does not have collectively financed infrastructure.

Civilization has it's costs and those costs are borne by the Citizens.

consumedconsumer
consumedconsumer

@CreamofBuckwheat so corporations can raise prices willy nilly to cover costs and ensure profits, but government must beg and borrow to fund the People's business because people don't want to pay for what they want.


building and maintaining roads (or public transportation for that matter) costs money. the state doesn't have enough to do what it needs to do / what its people want it to do.


stop the demonizing, figure out what's wrong, fix it and move on. that or continue to rail against the evils of government

Kamchak
Kamchak

@CreamofBuckwheat 

...spending other peoples' money...

Once you pay your taxes, that money is no longer yours, sport.

Just remindin'.

consumedconsumer
consumedconsumer

@MoFaux you don't have to use the roads to benefit from them. perhaps we need to try something other than just a fuel tax or a tax based on how much you drive. 

honested
honested

@MoFaux 

IF lawmakers had the courage to enact an appropriate annual tax/user fee, tying the necessary data collection for miles driven and presenting it to the tag office is no big deal and easily acquired with no massive 'privacy concerns'.

Of course the courage to face the problem in a realistic manner and assess the costs as Adults is still the big IF with the General Assembly.

Baumer_1
Baumer_1

@MoFaux


user fees are inherently inefficient.  The solution to GA's transportation woes will be found in the same place as the solution to GA's education woes: total tax reform.


The tax code of GA is antiquated...it is too reliant on income taxes (which are too low) and doesn't reflect the economic diversity that has come to GA over the last 20-30 years.  


The state really doesn't have all that much flexibility...even if every dollar of the gas tax went directly to transportation, instead of the general fund, GA continue to have a $60billion shortfall over the next 20 years.

NWGAL
NWGAL

@MoFaux Pay stations and auto mileage checkers? Big brother growing before our very eyes.

Yorick
Yorick

Although $180 million a year over two decades does not come close to 74 billion.  

SouthernDem
SouthernDem

@EdUktr Obviously, you plan on treating us to this bit of non-information on a daily basis. Interestingly, I've never heard HuffPost mentioned as a trusted polling source. As usual, you're grasping.

Poll after poll shows Deal mired in the mid-40s--not exactly safe territory for an incumbent with enough ethics baggage to fill a Greyhound. My prediction in November: Carter edges Deal by 3 points, avoids runoff.

ByteMe
ByteMe

@EdUktr So few days left??  Hmm... Eduktr's residing on Mercury instead of Earth.

honested
honested

@Quandry 

If the 'nose' method is really used by voters, it failed when they elected shady.

NWGAL
NWGAL

@Quandry My observation is that the higher the politician ascends, the more twisted they become. And that process is exacerbated by having to raise increasingly  astronomical  amounts for these extremely long campaigns.

Baumer_1
Baumer_1

@DS


Td is scientifically illiterate.


So much so he does not understand the idea of human agency. Apparently in his world you must believe everything the exact same way your grandfather does.

td1234
td1234

@consumedconsumer @CreamofBuckwheat 3% of every dollar spent is not enough? How about the 25 to 30% of the states budget we spend on Medicaid. Why not take some of that money to build roads? 

CreamofBuckwheat
CreamofBuckwheat

@Kamchak @CreamofBuckwheat

Once you pay your taxes, that money is no longer yours, sport.


Thank you Master of the Obvious for that salient point,

that must be why they" take it" out of "my" paycheck, sport. 

MoFaux
MoFaux

@consumedconsumer @MoFaux But motorists and bicyclists are the ones using the roads.  They should be paying the lion's share (and bicyclists should only pay a marginal fee...sorry folks, those bike lanes aren't free...and this would/should help "fuel" more spending on bike lanes).  A national/state sales tax is another way, but that has its own issues (people who don't drive much should not pay the same as someone who drives 100k miles/year).  Pay to Play is the best way, imo.

MoFaux
MoFaux

@Baumer_1 @MoFaux All user fees are not created equally. :-)  While there is no perfect system, the one I have described is much more fair than the present system.  You are not offering an alternative.  "Total tax reform" is akin to a solution heard in a stump speech.

MoFaux
MoFaux

@NWGAL @MoFaux There are certainly privacy concerns, but how do you plan to pay for transportation when we no longer use gas?  It's either this, or a straight-up sales tax.  Change is coming eventually, as we are not on a sustainable path.  It's a question of when, not if.

Quandry
Quandry

@honested

I don't know about you but sometimes I just don't like any of the candidates.  But I am not going to let that top me from voting.

I admit - I have used the nose method a  time or two.  What about you?

Kamchak
Kamchak

@CreamofBuckwheat 

Thank you Master of the Obvious for that salient point...

You are more than welcome, although you seemed to be confused with your oft repeated three word bumper-sticker sound bite, "other peoples' money".

Perhaps now that you are aware of this falsehood, you will discontinue this bit of misinformation.

 

Baumer_1
Baumer_1

@MoFaux


and so, too, do school buses, military vehicles, ambulances, police cruisers, delivery trucks, passers through the state from out of town, firetrucks, tractor-trailers, etc.


Are we going to require them to pay user fees, then tax us or raise costs to make up for the inefficiency of such a stupid idea?

Baumer_1
Baumer_1

@MoFaux @Baumer_1


Your right...user fees are created equally.  the ones at state parks are simple to enforce and collect. What you are proposing is ridiculous. There are millions of drivers in GA.


It would be highly unenforceable.  Either you spend the money to turn every road in GA into a HOT Lane or you require local dds offices to monitor this stuff...which won't work very well either. It is easy to reset an odometer.  "Oh look, I drove 0 miles this year...I guess I am not paying anything."


Just raise taxes. Everyone in GA benefits from transportation. Whether you drive or not.