Folks… this has gone WAY beyond kinda funny. The Georgia Legislature has been raiding (and levying) *fee* funds in Georgia like drunks to an open bar at a redneck wedding reception. (Keep in mind that fees are imposed by legislation; taxes are put before the voters. For the most part.)
Thus, *fees* and not *taxes* are popular in the Georgia Legislature. And the state rakes in plenty of dough from levying fees. Dough that makes our big icky budgeting problems go away quickly, so that our legislators don’t have to do hard work, such as figuring out how to balance the budget legitimately… and thus risk pissing-off all their lobbyist cronies in the process of legitimate hard work going on.
From the AJC today, January 18, 2011:
It [the fee] has become just another source of income for them (R legislators),” Wingate said.
Todd Edwards of the county commissioners association said state officials are “eroding the public trust, eroding transparency” by not using the fees for their intended purposes. “It has become a tax,” he said.
The “t” word is anathema to Republican leaders, who have promised not to raise taxes.
But “user fees” are different because they are designed to pay for specific things — like road maintenance, court services or landfill cleanups. Last session, the GOP majority pushed and won approval for user-fee increases worth about $90 million a year.
Will things change this year? Of course not! Not unless the people who have a stake in where the fee *trust funds* should be going (the places they were intended to go) start raising all kinda serious heck. Maybe they need your help to do so.