Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 17, 2023


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 17, 2023

On January 17, 1733, Georgia’s Trustees in London voted to ban Jews from the colony.

On January 16, 1786, the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, drafted by Thomas Jefferson, was adopted by the Virginia General Assembly.

On January 16, 1919, the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, prohibiting alcoholic beverages, when Nebraska became the 36th of the 48 states then in the Union to ratify the Amendment.

Martin Luther King, Jr. began the Chicago civil rights campaign on January 17, 1966.

At 4:30 PM on January 16, 1991, the Persian Gulf War began as air attacks against Iraq launched from US and British aircraft carriers, beginning Operation Desert Storm.

On January 16, 1997, a bomb exploded in a Sandy Springs abortion clinic, later determined to be the work of Eric Rudolph, who also bombed Centennial Olympic Park in 1996, a lesbian bar in Atlanta in February 1997, and a Birmingham abortion clinic in 1998.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

State tax revenues rose again in December, according to a Press Release.

The State of Georgia’s net tax collections in December totaled nearly $3.21 billion, for an increase of $224.9 million, or 7.5 percent, compared to December 2021 when net tax collections totaled $2.98 billion. Year-to-date, net tax collections totaled $15.82 billion, for an increase of $966.6 million, or 6.5 percent, over FY 2022 through six months.

The changes within the following tax categories account for December’s overall net tax revenue increase:

Individual Income Tax: Net Individual Income Tax collections totaled roughly $1.44 billion, for a decrease of $100.1 million, or -6.5 percent, compared to FY 2022 when net Individual Tax revenues totaled $1.54 billion.

The following notable components within Individual Income Tax combine for the net decrease:

• Individual Income Tax refunds issued (net of voided checks) increased by $17.1 million or 41.4 percent
• Individual Withholding payments decreased by $55.1 million, or -4 percent, compared to last year
• Individual Income Tax Return payments increased $15.7 million, or 114.9 percent, over last year
• All other Individual Tax categories, including Estimated Return payments, were down a combined $43.6 million

Sales and Use Tax: Gross Sales and Use Tax collections totaled $1.48 billion, for an increase of $108.3 million, or 7.9 percent, over last year’s total of $1.37 billion. Net Sales and Use Tax for the month increased by $52.2 million, or 7.5 percent, compared to December 2021, when net Sales Tax revenue totaled $694.8 million. The adjusted Sales Tax distribution to local governments totaled $729.6 million, for an increase of $59.1 million, or 8.8 percent, over FY 2022. Lastly, Sales Tax refunds decreased by $3.1 million, or 44.4 percent compared to the previous year.

Corporate Income Tax: Net Corporate Income Tax collections totaled $848.8 million, for an increase of $442.4 million, or 108.9 percent, over last year when net Corporate Tax revenues totaled $406.4 million in December.

The following notable components within Corporate Income Tax make up the net increase:

• Corporate Tax refunds issued (net of voided checks) increased by $2.5 million, or 13.6 percent, over FY ‘22
• Corporate Income Tax Estimated Return payments were up $236.8 million, or 72.4 percent, over last year
• All other Corporate Tax payments, including Corporate Return payments, were up a combined $208.1 million

Motor Fuel Taxes: Motor Fuel Tax collections for December decreased by $173.1 million, or -104.2 percent, compared to last year’s total of $166.1 million, as a result of Governor Kemp’s Executive Orders to extend the temporary suspension of the Motor Fuel Excise Tax until January 10th of 2023.

Motor Vehicle – Tag & Title Fees: Motor Vehicle Tag & Title Fee collections for December fell by $2.7 million, or -7.8 percent, compared to FY 2022 when Motor Vehicle fees totaled $34.4 million, while Title ad Valorem Tax (TAVT) collections increased by $5.7 million, or 9.9 percent, compared to last year’s total of $58.3 million.

Governor Brian Kemp’s office released his proposed state budget for FY 2024, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Gov. Brian Kemp released a $32.5 billion fiscal 2024 state budget proposal Friday that’s heavy on spending for education and gives Georgia teachers and state employees $2,000 raises.

The spending plan, up more than $2 billion over this year’s record budget, is built on an all-time high state surplus of more than $6 billion.

“As we look ahead to the upcoming fiscal year, we expect the state’s economy to be well positioned to withstand any further national economic slowing,” the governor wrote in his annual budget message to legislative leaders.

“As such, the … budgets I am presenting herein ensure that we continue to meet our financial obligations as a state while also investing in the education, health, and safety of our citizens to maintain our position as the best state in the country to live, work, and raise our families.”

After raising teacher salaries in Georgia by $5,000 during his first term, Kemp is calling for another $2,000 raise for teachers and other certified educators. State employees also would see their pay increased by $2,000.

Kemp is fulfilling a promise he made on the campaign trail last year to provide a second $1 billion state income tax rebate on top of the refund Georgia taxpayers received last year. He also is proposing $1.1 billion in property tax relief to homeowners.

“These actions will put real money back in the pockets of hardworking Georgians facing unforeseen jumps in property values and record-high inflation,” the governor wrote.

From the AJC:

This is called “budget week” at the state Capitol and with good reason: The Legislature all but shuts down while Appropriations committees start work reviewing Gov. Brian Kemp’s $32.5 billion spending proposal for the upcoming year.

But this year the joint House and Senate Appropriations committees are doing things a little differently: They are mixing in reviews of state audits on programs and tax breaks; they are listening to reports about how much debt the state owes; and they are discussing initiatives aimed at providing health care to more Georgians.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Blake Tillery, R-Vidalia, called it “a little accountability,” a chance to look at what is working, and maybe what is not.

Kemp last week released proposals that call for an increase of more than $1 billion in school funding, $567 million in pay raises, tax rebates, a bump in HOPE scholarship spending and big money to train workers for jobs in the electric-vehicle industry.

Most of what the governor requests he’ll get. Traditionally a big chunk of every state budget comes from a governor’s proposal, and Kemp dropped a 400-page plan on lawmakers Friday. It included funding for the midyear budget, which runs through June 30, and the fiscal 2024 budget, which picks up July 1.

This week’s hearings will begin Tuesday with a remote address from Kemp, who will be in Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum. Then the state economist, Jeffrey Dorfman of the University of Georgia, will present his economic forecast.

From another story in the AJC:

Kemp on Thursday announced plans for a $2,000 pay raise for more than 200,000 Georgia teachers, state and university employees, in part to fight high turnover rates.

That alone would mean a big boost in education funding, but Kemp said his proposals also would fully fund the state’s school spending formula and provide extra to help children who fell behind during the COVID-19 pandemic. He would also spend money on school safety, help more paraprofessionals become certified teachers and increase spending on school counselors.

The governor is proposing that homeowners receive an extra one-time exemption of $20,000 on the value of their homes at tax time, a move that he said would save those Georgians on average about $500. Many Georgians would also get an income tax rebate, as they did last year.

His budget proposals were released two hours after he announced that December tax collections had risen. For the first half of fiscal 2023, collections are up 6.5%, or $966.7 million, over the same period the previous year.

The state had a record surplus in fiscal 2021 and then had another record surplus, about $6.6 billion, for fiscal 2022, which ended June 30.

The state is hoping for another surplus — what’s left over when all the bills are paid at the end of the fiscal year — in 2023.

However, the governor’s budget office is projecting a decline in revenue this fiscal year.

Much of the next state bond package proceeds will go to education, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Schools account for a major portion of the $600 million bond package Gov. Brian Kemp is recommending in the $32.5 billion budget proposal the governor released late last week.

More than a third of the package – $217 million – would go toward K-12 school construction projects across the state financed by the Georgia Department of Education.

The rest of the bonds would be divided between the other state agencies, including $113.4 million earmarked for University System of Georgia campuses.

The Georgia Secretary of State held training for local election officials, according to the Albany Herald.

The Secretary of State’s Election Division hosted Elections officials from all 159 Georgia counties in Athens last week for 2 1/2 days of interactive, high-level training on Georgia’s Voter Registration and Information System, or GARViS 2023 SOS.

GARViS will replace Georgia’s current voter registration system, eNET, in time for the 2024 presidential election cycle.

“This conference and the launch of a new voter registration and information system brought county officials from across the state together, under one roof,” Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said in a news release. “Hands down, Georgia’s election directors are among the best our nation has to offer. The stand-out performance of these officials are why we proudly themed the conference ‘Georgia Leads … the nation!’”

More Georgians signed up for health insurance under the ACA or Obamacare than ever before, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Statesboro Herald.

A record number of Georgians — over 846,000 — signed up for health insurance for 2023 under the Affordable Care Act during the latest open enrollment period, which ended on Sunday.

The program allows individuals — many of them low-income or self-employed — to sign up for private health insurance. It offers significant tax subsidies to offset insurance costs for people earning between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty level, or between $13,590 and $54,360 for an individual.

The program has steadily grown in popularity in Georgia. Only about 316,000 Georgians signed up in 2014, its first year.

Columbia County may consider ordinance revisions regarding pet owners’ responsibilities, according to WJBF.

Changes could be coming to hold pet owners in Columbia County more responsible after an 11 year-old was attacked by dogs despite previous complaints.

“We do place responsibility on the pet owners in Columbia County as it relates to leashes or keeping your dog inside your fenced yard,” says Scott Johnson, Columbia County Manager. “We do not allow dogs to run at large.”

Johnson says that, while the state has its own laws, county ordinances about pets could change.

“We have an animal advisory board that’s made up of citizens, that meets on a regular basis, that makes recommendations to Animal services- and, ultimately, to the Board of Commissioners,” says Johnson. “I think you could possibly see something there. There’s no guarantee that something’s going to come out of that.”

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