Dugan, R-Carrollton, co-sponsored a Senate resolution for a constitutional amendment to phase out state income tax and gave his support to a Senate rule which will limit lobbyist gifts to legislators at $100 per item, event or meal.
“If at all possible, we need to get rid of state income tax so that we can be competitive with states such as Tennessee and Florida,” Dugan said Friday. “I’m tired of just talking about tax reform. I want to get something on the Senate floor that’s going to be openly debated.”
Senate Resolution 8 was proposed by Sen. Josh McKoon, R-Columbus, and has several co-sponsors. If approved by Georgia voters, it would phase out income tax completely by the year 2027. The resolution calls for reducing the income tax rate by 0.5 percent each year until it is eliminated. Georgians currently pay 6 percent state income tax.
Amendments to the Georgia Constitution may be introduced in either the state House or Senate. An amendment must be approved by a two-thirds majority of both legislative chambers for it to be placed on the ballot for voter approval.
Dugan said that next week he will be a co-sponsor on another tax bill which will look at a consumption tax as an income tax replacement.
“Obviously, consumption tax is one option that seems to be popular,” he said. “I want to look at everything. I don’t want Georgia to be less competitive because of state income tax.”
In addition to Tennessee and Florida, other states without income tax include Texas, Wyoming, Washington, New Hampshire, Nevada and Alaska. Several more states are debating income tax elimination, including North Carolina, Louisiana and Nebraska.
Dugan said the call for tax debate is coming from “both sides of the aisle” and he feels the change will be a bipartisan effort.
“The end goal is to survive and be competitive as a state,” he said. “It’s a winning proposition if we don’t have income tax.”
Other sponsors of the income tax legislation include Sen. John Albers, R-Roswell, Sen. Butch Miller, R- Gainesville, Sen. Steve Gooch, R- Dahlonega, Sen. Judson Hill, R-Marietta, Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome, Sen. Brandon Beach, R -Alpharetta, Sen. Hunter Hill, R-Smyrna, and Sen. Barry Loudermilk, R- Cassville.
In the meantime, Dugan added his voice to senators supporting ethics reform to limit lobbyists’ gifts.
The state Senate introduced a proposal on the first day of the 2013 legislative session to amend Senate Rules to limit gifts from any registered lobbyist or group of registered lobbyists at $100 per item, event or meal. Dugan said he “supports and praises this bipartisan effort to make ethics reform a priority.”
“Our work to regulate and limit lobbyist gifts is still a work in progress, but I’m pleased with this step in the right direction,” he said. “I sincerely hope these open conversations about ethics between legislators and the public will continue beyond this resolution.”
The new rule originates from proactive efforts by the state Senate to solicit input from both senators and citizens on how to effectively address lobbyist expenditure concerns. Any violations of the $100 gift cap would be subject to review by the Senate Ethics Committee.
Dugan, who has just completed his first week in the Senate, said he feels “a sense of urgency” to get started and be effective as a new member.
“I’m still the ‘baby Senator,’ but guys who have been here longer than me share a lot of the same views,” he said. “They’re doing the heavy lifting and writing, but I get an opportunity to review what they write and suggest any modifications I’d like before they submit it.”