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The Tax Reform Council (TRC) has done a pretty good job overall. Lots of thought and research has resulted in a chance for a broader revenue structure for Georgia, often supporting ideas which have long been sought by business people, advocates and economists alike. Taxing services and the casual sales of cars, aircraft, and boats, and sun-setting many tax exemptions (realizing that most would be reviewed and reinstated and others, not) are a few such ideas.

One proposal, however, which would add a 4% state sales tax on groceries, troubles a number of advocacy groups, including Voices. First let me say that we are aware that this tax could bring in a significant amount of revenue to our hurting state – to the tune of about $500 Million per year. Unfortunately, that tax also would weigh heavily on those who bring home smaller paychecks, pulling a considerable percentage of money out of their earnings to pay for necessities – namely food – for their children and family members.

But we need the revenues, right? Right. So rather than use a regressive tax such as the grocery tax, consider the idea, borne out of the 2020 Georgia tax reform coalition, of lowering the state income tax from 6% to 4.5%, rather than the 4% proposed by the TRC. Such a move would fill the revenue gap nicely, and address the inequity dilemma. There are many families in Georgia for whom even $150 per year lost to a grocery tax could mean the difference between paying a power bill, buying healthier foods, or covering a co-pay at the doctor’s office. Kids need good shelter, good nutrition and good health. Increasing the financial challenge on essential (food) items is not the way to encourage that scenario.

Next Tuesday, February 8th, JUSTGeorgia Coalition members will come together with Georgia’s network of Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for a “Day at the Capitol.”  This will be a great time to get a quick update on the Child Protection and Public Safety Act, aka the Children’s Code Rewrite bill (which will be reintroduced any day now), meet your elected officials and share with them why this bill is important.

For those that can join us, we will be meeting in the Floyd Room of the Sloppy Floyd Building at 9:30 am for a legislative briefing, followed by a group photo with Governor Deal at 10:45 at the North Wing interior staircase.  After the photo I encourage each of you to visit with your legislators and invite them to join us for lunch back in the Floyd Room at 11:45.  It will certainly be a full day, but worth every effort as we continue the push for an improved children’s code which in turn will lead to improved outcomes for our children.  For more information, click here or email jneighbors@justga.org.  I hope to see you there!

Julia Neighbors, JUSTGeorgia Project Manager

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