Citizen takes issue with state chamber stance
The Georgia Chamber issued a scorecard a few weeks back giving grades to legislators for votes they perceive as pro-business. The grades given are those “that the Georgia Chamber believes will directly impact the business community in areas including education and workforce, civil justice reform, business climate, health care, and economic development.” One particular vote graded was SB 24 the Hospital Bed Tax issue. A legislator that voted YES for SB 24 was scored higher than one who voted NO. Problem is the legislator that voted NO should be given the higher grade.
The Georgia Constitution gives taxation authority to the house, because it is the closest to the people. SB 24 transfers that authority to the Department of Community Health. The legislators that voted YES for SB 24 actually radically altered the Georgia Constitution and nullified the people’s power to levy taxes. SB 24 empowers the Department of Community Health to assess a 1.45 percent to 6 percent tax on sick people in hospital beds. With this tax they raise a bucket of money enabling them to go hat-in-hand to the general government in Washington, DC, to get an approximate 3 to 1 Medicaid match, money they don’t actually have. This printed money is re-distributed back to the hospitals under the guise of providing healthcare to the poor.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
As the printed money floods into the healthcare industry, costs go up initiating reimbursement cuts to providers and rationing of care. Providers can no longer afford to see patients in their office, so those patients end up in emergency rooms where the cost is higher. Less poor people get healthcare, but the hospitals get their money to keep the janitors and secretaries in jobs. Simply put SB 24 isn’t about healthcare, it’s a Medicaid/welfare jobs program. The legislators that voted YES for SB 24 should be voted from office.
The Chamber of Commerce is no longer a stand alone entity that promotes business. The Chamber of Commerce promotes big government and that actually hurts small businesses and the citizens of this great state.
GDOT delivers projects on time and on budget
In today’s economic environment, meeting our transportation needs is one of the most difficult challenges for elected and civic leaders. While Georgia is home to the world’s busiest airport and the fastest growing port on the east coast, we also face declining motor fuel revenue and the arrival of 3 million more Georgians by 2030. These assets and challenges require an innovative, multi-faceted approach to building our infrastructure. Fortunately, Gov. Nathan Deal and the state’s transportation agencies are strongly demonstrating a commitment to those creative solutions.
Last month, GDOT completed a series of open house meetings to educate the public about the construction of new capacity along I-75 in Clayton and Henry counties. The new lanes would be reversible, adding extra capacity along the corridor during rush hour, and would be paid for with toll revenue. The pricing would be variable, like the tolls on I-85 north of Atlanta, and will both help pay for the project and mitigate congestion.
GDOT is also aggressively executing a public private partnership that will add almost 30 miles of managed lane capacity in the gridlocked interstates of Cobb and Cherokee counties. When the Northwest Corridor project opens for traffic in four years, commuters will benefit from a combination of innovative technology and faster connectivity. These managed lanes will also allow for more efficient transit operations for express buses and local transit authorities.
In these two projects, Gov. Deal, the Georgia Department of Transportation and the State Road and Tollway Authority have demonstrated their expertise in finding cost effective ways to mitigate congestion in two of our state’s most infamous chokepoints. The economic development benefits of these projects are numerous, as freight and logistics companies will be able to move goods through our state more cost effectively.
Their leadership doesn’t stop there. The 2014 budget passed by the General Assembly includes another round of investment in the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project. To date, the state has committed nearly $230 million to the completion of Georgia’s biggest economic development project since the fifth runway at Hartsfield Jackson International Airport. This is a clear demonstration of a commitment to transportation priorities all across the state of Georgia.
Finally, barely four months after revenue collections began, GDOT approved funding for the first project to be built with funds from the Transportation Investment Act. A local street improvement project in Toombs County is the first investment of the almost $2 billion that will be generated over the next 10 years. GDOT is number one or number two in the entire country for delivering projects on time and on budget and that commitment to excellence combined with communities’ willingness to participate will drive the TIA to be one of the most successful transportation development programs in Georgia’s history.
While Georgia’s transportation challenges are numerous, it’s clear that the leadership in our state is committed to creative, progressive solutions for our transportation system that will benefit Georgians long into the future. That is why the Georgia Transportation Alliance and members of the business community from throughout the state look forward to continuing to work with our leadership to solidify Georgia’s position as a global logistics hub and an outstanding place to live.
Seth Millican, Director
Georgia Transportation Alliance