I want to thank Rep. Kevin Tanner for meeting every Saturday during the legislative session with his constituents. We appreciate your time and dedication!
Last Saturday, Bette Holland, chair of the Dawson Democratic Party, asked about the austerity cuts to public education (this year another $166 million to add to the $9.2 billion already endured), the additional expenses added to local school boards through increases in health care (nothing to do with Obamacare) and transportation costs passed on by the state to local schools boards.
Many of our schools still have furlough days, increased class sizes, outdated textbooks and fewer resources. The budget does call for a 2 percent increase in the state salary budget. I and many other constituents have written to point out this problem and have suggested that we could increase taxes slightly for public education.
Rep. Tanner’s response was that they had to make a choice between the 2 percent raise for the teachers or eliminating the austerity cut. He said that unlike the Democrats, he and his colleagues are financially conservative.
First, let me say that Democrats don’t want to spend any more on taxes than we should to support programs like public education and health care. But here are facts as researched by the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute:
• Georgia ranks 47th in the nation in revenue collections.
• Georgia taxes paid per resident went from 5.9 percent in 1990 to 4.9 percent of income in 2016 (both still one of the
lowest in the country). If we had continued to pay the 1990 tax rate, we would have had $3.2 billion to invest
in education, health care and other areas. We pay less in taxes than 46 other states.
• Georgia is 50th in Medicaid spending per patient and 38th in spending per public school student.
• Georgia is the seventh highest state in the number of residents, adults and children, living in poverty.
So Georgians continue to suffer the old adage “you get what you pay for.” Please contact Rep. Tanner about this issue.