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 $40 million in scrap tire fees collected over the last decade have been redirected to other state programs.
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 far less than the amount the fees have brought in over this period.
House Bill 127 seeks to address the redirection of dedicated "fees". This legislation was introduced by Representative Jay Powell and has the bipartisan backing of over 40 co-sponsors including House Appropriations Committee Chairman Terry England, Rules Chairman John Meadows, House Majority Whip Ed Lindsey and Minority Leader Stacey Abrams. Under Rep. Powell's bill, if the fees are not appropriated for their statutorily-dedicated 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 four years. Rep. Powell introduced similar legislation last year which passed the House overwhelmingly before failing in the Senate.
"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 fees to what is being appropriated, or get rid of the fees altogether. House Bill 127 strengthens transparency in the budget process and trust in our government."
"The Association County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG) strongly supports HB 127 and commends Representative Powell for its introduction." said Todd Edwards, ACCG Associate Legislative Director. "While we recognize that the State may have needed to redirect 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. Otherwise, county taxpayers continue to pick up the costs they thought they had already covered."