Atlanta, Ga. - February 8, 2011 - Georgia House Democrats have completed their first phase of their legislative agenda aimed at Economic Security. Their package highlighted a Democratic vision and alternatives for job creation and economic reform through four bills, including offering local control of Georgia's Public Services Commission, a tax amnesty bill, a database to show taxpayers where state money is being spent and a measure to protect homeowners from foreclosure.
"The severity of the country's economic crisis has been deeper than most citizens anticipated. We want to provide some tools that allow taxpayers and homeowners to do the right thing. Our economic package focuses on families who need another 60 or 90 days to get their finances in order and get the financial footing they need to help restore a balance to our state economy, too," said Stacey Abrams, Democratic Minority Leader.
Abrams said the Caucus' "Encouraging Responsible Taxpayers Act" provides an amnesty period that would allow taxpayers to pay owed taxes without penalty or interest. The measure provides a 10-month period to make appropriate payments.
"During the economic downturn of 1992, the state collected $51.3 million through a tax amnesty program. Providing taxpayers that same opportunity now would not only benefit families, but would also bring much needed revenue to that state -- revenue that could be used to prevent teacher furloughs," said Rep. Carolyn Hugely, of Columbus, Democratic Whip.
Democrats have been hosting town hall meetings across the sate to deliver their message and legislative alternatives directly to citizens. So far, more than thirty Democratic leaders have hosted town halls from metro Atlanta to Savannah.
"We're asking our constituents to weigh in on the issues they think are important and we are taking our ideas to them," said Rep. Brian Thomas, who serves as Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. "As the minority party, Democrats are responsible for offering meaningful alternatives to Republican bills."
Abrams, recently elected to lead the House Democratic Caucus, has vowed to reconnect Democratic leaders with constituents. Democrats plan to follow up with legislative packages on Educational Opportunity and Shared Responsibility in the coming weeks.
"Protecting Georgia families is job Number One," said Rep. Billy Mitchell, author of the Protecting Georgia Homeowners Act. "Georgia ranks seventh in the country in foreclosures, but our Protecting Georgia Homeowner's Act of 2011 helps level the playing field with consumer protections. What matters to people right now is keeping their family intact while weathering the economic storm. We aim to help them."