Tuesday, January 26, 2010

46. DuBose Porter: Bandwagon 101 with HB356

Leadership is sticking up for what you know is right even in the face of overwhelming odds.
In the 2009 session, when DuBose Porter cosponsored HB356, the "point of sale" bill, the elected Republican leadership killed the bill in committee and chose instead to furlough teachers and state employees and raise your property taxes under some misguided understanding of small government. Smaller government should mean right-sized, efficient government at a price the people can afford to pay. Choosing to furlough teachers and state employees, and raising property taxes, when you know there is another way to find the revenue to prevent it without costing the tax payer one additional penny, is not good, small government. In addition, furloughs and property tax hikes will only further damage Georgia by sending a marketing message that will continue to turn away industry and jobs.

Campaigning for governor has been a humbling experience and it has shown me just how much you can do once the people of an entire state begin to hear the truth about their government. The demise of the Hawks is a great example. For six years I have been a relentless adversary to the Hawks system, the largest threat to democracy in America. These few legislators called themselves Hawks; it is the name they used on their name tags, because it tells of their ability to swoop into committees and take prey. The Republican ex-Speaker of the Georgia House and this small band of enforcers, the Hawks, had for six years, the power to personally change every vote, on every bill, in every committee before the Georgia House of Representatives. In doing so, they took away your right to representative government. In just one year of my campaigning statewide against the Hawks, bringing the arrogance and injustice of the Hawks before the people, we now have a new Speaker who has rescinded the appointment of the Hawks. By my campaigning statewide, the truth of HB356 is also being revealed. Where I was once the sole promoter of HB356 among candidates for governor, now the others are finally starting to follow.” - DuBose Porter

With true leadership, and with the people's best interest in mind, it is possible to get others to jump onto the best bandwagon for Georgia. Here is the article where the jumping began.
Revenue dept. in gov candidates' crosshairs
By Aaron Gould Sheinin
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
6:26 p.m. Monday, January 25, 2010

Candidates for governor, both Democrats and Republicans, found common ground on Monday: Changes are needed at the state Department of Revenue.
Speaking at a forum sponsored by the Georgia Municipal Association, several of the 10 candidates taking part zeroed in on the department as a source of ire as well as a potential source of additional tax revenue.
Some of the suggestions were based on policy and equipment. For example, Republican Karen Handel, the former secretary of state, said the department needs a technology overhaul that would help auditors better track and collect state sales tax.
But some recommendations were aimed squarely at Revenue Commissioner Bart Graham, who was appointed by Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue.
"We need a new Revenue commissioner," former Adjutant Gen. David Poythress, a Democrat, said.
The Department of Revenue is responsible for tracking and collecting income and sales taxes, as well as auditing tax returns and catching scofflaws who don't file as the law requires. Democrats, and some Republicans, have argued for years that the department is unable to accurately track whether businesses in the state are properly collecting and forwarding sales tax collections to local governments.
House Minority Leader DuBose Porter (D-Dublin), a candidate for governor, has made it a top issue in his campaign. Porter claims the state loses out on up to $1 billion in uncollected sales taxes and has been openly critical of Graham's handling of the issue.
"The Revenue department cannot account to you unreported and unpaid sales tax," Porter told the gathering of the state's mayors.
The concern was bipartisan. Republican Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine, now running for governor, said he has plans to "start a massive overhaul" at the Revenue department once he's elected.
"It is embarrassing how that Revenue department is run," Oxendine said.
Graham and his department are easy targets as tax collectors are rarely popular. Graham has argued that budget cuts have seriously wounded the department.
It no longer has three shifts of workers processing paper-filed income tax returns, for example, and a computer overhaul is being implemented in stages due to budget shortfalls...

Now, a year later than it should have passed, it seems there will be enough support to pass HB356 and to force the elected Republican majority to bring in this unreturned revenue.  It is past time to quit choosing to furlough our teachers and state employees, raising our property taxes, and hampering our state's ability to attract industry and jobs.

For those of you just finding out about HB356 here is an excerpt from an older blog:

You go into a store.
You buy something.
You pay sales tax.

At that point, in Georgia, two things may happen to the sales tax money you just paid. One, the business that received the sales tax money from you will send it to the state.  
Or two, the business owner will keep the sales tax money for his own personal use. You see the problem.
 Alabama has already implemented a point of sale bill and they found 1 billion extra dollars in unreturned sales tax to help them through their economic downturn. 
With 1 billion extra dollars, Georgia could have chosen to not furlough teachers and state employees and not raise property taxes. However, in Georgia, your Governor and the elected Republican leadership chose to let the bill DuBose cosponsored last session, HB356, die in committee. They chose instead to furlough and to repeal the Homeowner’s Tax Relief Grant under some misguided idea of smaller government. People want efficient low-cost government, but not government that cost them money and allows some citizens to cheat the system. (DuBose Porter also went to the well to keep the HTR Grant and voted to keep your property taxes from going up. However, they repealed the Grant anyway. Your taxes will be going up, thanks to the elected Republican leadership.)

Although it has not been passed yet, DuBose wants to thank the many people that have helped him in his struggle to bring HB356 into reality.
First, our many supporters, who have allowed DuBose to come speak around the state and have become informed on HB356 and have shared that message with others. Second, the Georgia Municipal Association and the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia, two organizations that first brought the problem to our attention and stayed the course with us, and forced the revenue department to do the joint studies on Hall County. This study produced results we knew were there all the time. Almost 25% of the businesses in Hall County did not return your sales taxes to you. Just imagine what it will be across the entire state. Third, the other cosponsors of the bill, Virgil Fludd, who was the first to bring the bill to our caucus, and to Calvin Smyre, Margaret Kaiser, Stacy Abrams, and Nikki Randall, who had the judgment and leadership to take on an unpopular cause and push it forward for the people. They did not relent even when the Revenue Department went on a publicity campaign to discredit HB356. Our supporters, these organizations and legislators stood firm and we thank them all.

 We cannot stop yet. 
HB356 still has to pass the legislature
to become a reality.

Continue to make your voice heard. Our message is spreading and there are still many more battles to be won and things to do including rebuilding and reshaping our educational system; making your government use your money where they tell you it will be used; designing water and transportation plans around water ways and transportation corridors instead of campaign donor lists; stopping the job blocking; and marketing the state to attract industry instead of the ineffective and damaging strategy we now employ.
 Join us as we continue to bring the truth about your government to you. Volunteer to help us spread the word about what is truly going on behind closed doors in your government. Representing the people’s interest first is what DuBose Porter has always done as a Legislator and what he will continue to do as your next governor. In this economy, Georgians cannot afford to be apathetic about their government. Get engaged in the system. It is yours. Vote for real independent leadership. DuBose Porter works for you.

Put your voice back in your government,
your money back in your pocket,
AND let’s work together
 to attract industry and jobs for all Georgians.
 Vote for DuBose Porter, Governor 2010.