December 15, 2020 1:03 PM
This week’s Courier Herald column:
There was good news out of the Governor’s office this week, as Brian Kemp sent word that state revenues for November were up 8.3% from one year ago. For the first five months of this fiscal year, Georgia’s tax revenues are up 5.7% compared to last year.
This is, unquestionably, good news. Last year at this time we were celebrating record low unemployment and “Covid” was not a household word.
If you had asked anyone in state government last March if we would be able to even hold revenues and thus state spending on things like teacher salaries, road construction, healthcare and the like, they would have probably referred you over to someone at the Department of Behavioral Health.
Still, budget writers are concerned about uncertainty that lies ahead. Federal support for extended unemployment benefits, small businesses, and coverage for Covid-related expenses have ended or are ending this month.
Georgia’s Senate runoffs have kept additional aid tied up in electoral politics. Georgia’s leaders remain mired in a circular firing squad while DC, at least as of this writing’s deadline, is celebrating gridlock.
I’d like to suggest to Georgia’s leaders take a page from every political consultant and/or grifter, and use this election to Georgia’s advantage. In confusion, after all, there is profit.
There’s a lot of talk of people moving to Georgia specifically for this election. Former Democratic Presidential candidate Andrew Yang officially got this ball rolling by announcing he and his spouse would move to Georgia to help give President-elect Biden a Democratic Senate.
A couple of weeks later, an investigation was opened after a Florida attorney announced he would register to vote in Georgia and encouraged others at the Bay County Republican Party meeting to do the same. He noted that proving one didn’t have the “intent” to move to Georgia would be difficult if anyone chose to prosecute.
Thus, we have folks on the left and folks on the right wanting to come to Georgia to “help” us select our two U.S. Senators. State citizenship, once declared, gives them that right. With rights come responsibilities.
A large part of Georgia’s revenue increase over last year came from a 14.3% of income tax collections. Just imagine what it can be when all of these new “residents” remit 5.375% of their income next year for their move to Georgia.
Even if these new residents decide their “intent” changed and they “move” back to where they came from, they should have lived here for 30 days if they were here long enough to vote in our election. The legislature needs to fund as many additional positions at the Georgia Department of Revenue as possible to ensure that those that exercised their right to vote also exercise their duty to pay Georgia income taxes, even for 1 month.
But wait, there’s more. I’m guessing a lot of those people moving here have a car. Georgia law requires those moving here register their cars in Georgia within 30 days. That’s the same amount of time you have to live here to vote.
While the Georgia Department of Revenue is welcoming those that moved here to vote with income tax forms, they also should ensure that each new resident paid their Title Ad Valorem Tax, or 6.6% of the value of each car they own.
Voter fraud may be difficult to prove. As Al Capone found out, tax evasion is a much easier case to build.
I’m not sure it’s worth Georgia’s time to notify home states and counties of those who moved here “temporarily”. I am sure other states and municipalities that aren’t doing as well as Georgia would like to repeal any homestead exemptions of folks who “moved” but then changed their mind.
Am I serious about this? I’m very serious about one person, one vote.
There’s a much bigger issue at play here than state tax revenues. Changes made over time to our election laws by the “sue and settle” method have provided consequences that are only now getting the attention they deserve.
Changing election laws midstream, either by a lawsuit or by special session, are sub-optimal. Georgians need to channel the energy they have at the moment into finishing this election based on the rules and laws as it began. Then, and only then, we need to take a long look at ensuring our laws provide for every legal vote to be cast and counted – But only those votes, with each citizen voting in only one state.