On day 9 of my first year in the General Assembly (2013) we voted on SB24 to renew the 'Hospital Provider Fee'. I was a 'no' vote that year for several reasons: chief among them was the transfer of our legislative authority to tax to the Department of Community Health (a department of the Executive Branch). Senate Bill 70 this year is a renewal of that measure for an additional three years. Several of us in the House tried to offer an alternative to pass a simple one year renewal- though I don't support the way this legislation raises revenue to take part in the federal medicaid fund matching program, I do recognize a need for the funding to prevent a massive budget shortfall. In light of a new Presidential administration, a one year renewal seemed most fiscally prudent as it would allow us to revisit the issue next year once we had seen what President Trump's intentions were with national healthcare policy (and whether or not this program would continue to exist). As this legislation still incorporates a three year sunset, I could not support it.
This program was put together in Georgia at a time when our budget was roughly $17 billion and the legislature needed to make many difficult decisions about how to keep our state functioning. Six years later, our state budget is nearing $25 billion- we should be endeavoring to eliminate this tax. It was originally proposed as a 'stop-gap' measure that would be done away with when times were good again. I submit that our revenues are up, and we should endeavor to appropriate the necessary funds for the program out of the general fund rather than maintain an additional tax stream in the coming years.
You can see my vote on this measure from 2013 and rationale here:
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