Sen. Isakson Tells Local Officials He Supports CDBG, T-SPLOST and Internet Tax Fairness

Sen. Johnny Isakson

Sen. Johnny Isakson spent some time on Tuesday, July 24, talking with Georgia city and county officials on a conference call.

Before any questions were asked of him, Sen. Isakson commented on the importance of Georgia’s ports and the support the deepening of the Port of Savannah has gotten. In particular, he recognized Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s six trips to Washington D.C. this year in support of the project. He also mentioned the Obama administration’s recent decision to expedite the federal review of the port project and said the review would be completed later this year.

Sen. Isakson also commented on the fact that while it appears that Congress hasn’t done much recently, it did pass the highway funding bill, which authorizes funding through 2014, as well as the FAA bill. He said the highway funding legislation also included language that extended federal flood insurance for another five years.

Before taking questions, Sen. Isakson also mentioned that beginning in 2013, the sequestration (automatic spending cuts) of $1.2 trillion from the federal budget over the next ten years would begin. He expressed concerns about this process, in particular because it includes automatic cuts to defense spending.

Internet Sales Tax
When asked about legislation that would allow for the collection of sales tax on Internet sales, Sen. Isakson indicated that he thought legislation to allow that would pass this year (see Main Street Fairness Act and Marketplace Fairness Act) and that it is “only fair” to collect taxes on Internet sales.

Community Development Block Grants
In response to a question about CDBG funding, Sen. Isakson indicated his support for the program. He said that in every budget submission, the President that is in office at the time always cuts CDBG because they know that the Congress will put the money back in.  He cautioned that because of the current fiscal reality in D.C. that every appropriation must be looked at in regards to its cost and benefits.  He believes that if a cost/benefit analysis is done that CDBG will continue to look good, but that the total amount appropriated may be less than it is now.

Federal Relationship with Rural Communities
Asked about how the Federal government can work with rural communities, Sen. Isakson responded that the best thing the Federal government could do would be to 1) communicate some degree of certainty by reducing “over regulation” of small businesses, 2) continue CDBG funding, and 3) “do what you do at the city and county level, balance your budget.”

Sen. Isakson spoke clearly of his support of Georgia’s upcoming referendum on a regional one percent sales tax for transportation, commonly referred to as the T-SPLOST. He indicated that he has already voted for the T-SPLOST (he voted early). He said he believes that the T-SPLOST makes a lot of sense because 1) transportation projects can be paid for in cash as opposed to bonding them out, and 2) the voters get to decide. 

Housing Values
In talking about the assessed value of property, Sen. Isakson indicated that he didn’t believe that in many instances current appraisals reflect the fair market value of the property, citing the fact that values are well below the cost to replace. He said that a property’s replacement cost is a much better indicator of value and that figuring in the sale price of foreclosed properties has created undue harm.

Federal Regulations
Although he feels the legislation will not pass, Sen. Isakson indicated that he is a co-sponsor of a bill that would implement a temporary freeze on federal regulations. It is his belief that the nation needs time to absorb the current regulations that have recently come down the pike before any more are passed and implemented.

About Brian Wallace

Brian Wallace is Deputy Director, Communications, for the Georgia Municipal Association in Atlanta, Georgia.

Posted on July 26, 2012, in CDBG, Economy, federal regulations, Infrastructure, Taxes, TIA, Transportation, TSPLOST and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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