Legislation will prevent millions of dollars in state fees collected for dedicated purposes from being redirected for other uses.
ATLANTA, Ga. (January 26, 2012) – When Georgians purchase new tires for their vehicles, a $1 per-tire fee is added to the cost. This fee, established in Georgia law, is dedicated to the Solid Waste Trust Fund to address landfill emergencies, clean up illegal scrap tire piles, support recycling and litter reduction initiatives and fund other solid waste management programs. Yet over $37 million in scrap tire fees collected over the last decade have been redirected to other state programs to address budget shortfalls.
The Solid Waste Trust Fund is not alone. Dedicated fees for programs such as cleaning up hazardous waste sites, providing indigent defense, training law enforcement officers, and teaching driver’s education programs have also been redirected, with appropriations ranging from zero to something less than the amount the fees have brought in.
House Bill 811, introduced by Representative Jay Powell and supported by more than 60 other House members, seeks to address the redirection of dedicated fees. Under Rep. Powell’s bill, if the fees are not appropriated for their statutorily-intended purposes, then those fees will be reduced or eliminated, proportionate to the amount that is redirected. To minimize impact on the state budget, the new appropriation requirements would be phased in over five years.
“In recent years, budget times have been tough and the General Assembly has had to make ends meet the best it can. However, we cannot continue to use these fees for other purposes,” said Representative Powell. “We should either appropriate the fees as promised, reduce the fee to what is being appropriated, or get rid of the fee altogether. House Bill 811 strengthens transparency in the budget process and trust in our government.”
“The Association County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG) strongly supports HB 811 and commends Representative Powell for its introduction.” said Todd Edwards, ACCG Associate Legislative Director. “While we recognize that the State may have needed these funds to address budgetary shortfalls over the last decade, we are pleased that they are considering legislation to prohibit this practice in the future.”