Georgia is one of the most under-funded states in the country, but state lawmakers can remedy structural budget shortfalls by implementing revenue options used successfully by other states. Annual deep cuts in state funding the past five years means fewer teachers in Georgia’s classrooms, roads and bridges that continue to crumble and an unappealing environment for businesses. Lawmakers can reverse the state’s ongoing decline by choosing from a menu of options that will increase revenue without harming Georgia’s economy or families.
To create a prosperous state, it is important to find the proper balance in tax strategy. Letting revenue levels drop too low is just as undesirable for Georgia’s citizens and businesses as creating a tax system that slows economic growth. Strategic public investments are essential for maintaining a healthy economy with broadly shared growth, but lack of revenue means that lawmakers are unable to make them. Without vital services like health care and public safety, Georgia’s communities are unable to thrive and the state becomes a less attractive place to live, work, start a business or raise a family.
Taken together, this revenue shortfall and lack of public investment is a prime driver of the state’s ongoing economic struggles. Increasing revenue and promoting investments in the future, conversely, would lay the foundation for a modern economy that provides good jobs, broadly shared growth and a higher quality of life.
To reverse Georgia’s decline will require updating the state’s tax system, which is not currently designed to collect the revenue that Georgia needs today and in the future. This report seeks to lay out a variety of options for doing so, thus giving lawmakers a revenue “menu” they can pick and choose from as circumstances dictate.