Republicans running for a seat in the General Assembly say they would not vote for a tax increase, while Democrats say they’d have to analyze the reasoning behind a proposed tax hike. Voters will select their party’s nominee during the primary election set for May 20. Other state and local races, including governor, state superintendent and county commission seats, are also on the ballot.
The MDJ polled six candidates vying for a spot in the House of Representatives, asking, “If elected, would you ever vote for a tax increase?”
North Cobb, District 34
Republican and Democrat candidates are urged by Americans for Tax Reform, an influential advocacy group backed by Grover Norquist, to sign a “Taxpayer Protection Pledge” vowing to never raise taxes before taking state or local office.
Bert Reeves, an attorney from Marietta who is challenging Charles Gregory for his seat representing District 34 in the Kennesaw area, has signed the pledge.
“I will not vote for a tax increase. In fact, I have signed the Americans for Tax Reform Pledge to never increase taxes,” Reeves said. “We are already taxed enough by our federal and state governments, and our elected leaders need to find practical ways to do more with less. I will work hard to pass common-sense tax reform that reduces
taxes for our families and businesses.”
His opponent, Gregory, also said he would not support a tax increase, offering the simple explanation, “We already pay too much in taxes and spend too much.
North Cobb, District 44
Stephen Fellows, a business owner from Kennesaw vying for Don Parson’s seat in the Georgia House of Representatives, argued for tax restructuring in the form of a “fair tax,” a national sales tax.
“I will never vote for a tax increase. When elected, I will fight to expand liberty. That means freedom with more personal responsibility,” Fellows said. “Career politicians in office for decades need tax revenue in order to pander to lobbyists and special interest groups. These groups then turn around and fund the careers and campaigns of lifelong politicians. This is why I strongly support term limits. With term limits, we can see new, fresh ideas receive consideration in Georgia. We need to reduce wasteful spending and switch to a fair tax. I have pledged to champion a fair tax.”
Parsons, the incumbent in the race for the District 44 seat, also argued for tax reform.
“Ideally, the tax base should be broad with low rates. In order to move to a broader tax base with the lowest rates, tax reform must occur. As the tax base is broadened, some who pay zero taxes would be brought into the base, and those who benefit from the center of the base but pay minimal rates themselves would pay their fair share,” Parsons said. “A tax code that collects at a rate on the lowest scale on the Laffer curve allows taxpayers to make decisions about how to spend their own money, and still provides government with the revenue to fund education and provide needed services.”
The Laffer curve is a tool used in the economics field to measure the relationship between possible tax rates and resulting government revenue. It is named for Arthur Betz Laffer, who gained notoriety as a member of President Ronald Reagan’s Economic Police Advisory Board.
South Cobb, District 38
Incumbent Rep. David Wilkerson (D-Austell), who represents District 38 in south Cobb, and his opponent, Connie Taylor, a grants compliance director for city of Atlanta, are both undecided. They argue a tax increase would need to be warranted.
“I would have to see the proposed legislation. I believe our government should raise the money necessary to provide basic services to its citizens. Public safety, education and maintaining the infrastructure all require resources,” Wilkerson said. “For example, additional money is needed to provide an adequate education to our 1.6 million students in public school. That is something I would support.”
Taylor, who lives in Powder Springs, said she would support a tax hike only if no other options were available.
“It’s clear that increasing taxes is not the most favorable decision, and I feel it’s important for legislators to evaluate all incoming revenue and look at other options that may exist in sparking growth in the state before increasing taxes,” Taylor said. “Please note, only after all avenues have been exhausted, would I entertain a tax increase.”