SAVANNAH, GA- More than 700,000 vets call Georgia home. A local legislator wants to make it easier for them to stay here once they’re retired.
In his sophomore year in the Georgia state legislator, Savannah representative Jesse Petrea (R) is authoring legislation to cut the states income tax on veteran pensions. According to Petrea, he hopes this legislation can kill two birds with one stone in one way or another.
“It’s going to be a boom for military families it’s the right thing to do for veterans but here’s one of the keys what I wanted to do was also to solve our number one economic development issue in this state and that is workforce development,” Petrea says.
Georgia is one of the few southern states that carries a statewide income tax. It does not exclude the retirement income vets receive from the federal government unless they are over the age of 62. Veterans receive this pension plan following at least two decades of military service.
With his legislation, Petrea wants vets of all ages to view Georgia as a place to work and call home post service years.
“Who better to incentivize to live and work in Georgia than people who are disciplined patriotic Americans that have the soft skills and hard skills to take these jobs.”
He says making the exemption would take away nearly $120 million in tax revenues. He plans to neutralize that loss by raising the states’ tobacco tax from 37 cents to 65.
The tax currently sits at one of the lowest in the nation with past attempts to raise it from even fellow state reps like Ron Stephens (R) failing.
“It seems to me that the right thing to do is cover our cost of smoking related illness and we’re not even close so i don’t understand the opposition to be honest with you,” says Petrea
News 3 reached out to other representatives in reaction of Petrea’s piece of legislation, they told us that even though the bill has good policy behind it, there is a definite chance of opposition from several lobbying groups.
Petrea remains confident the barrier can be broken on raising the state tobacco tax in order to help veterans.
Georgia ranks in the lower percentile, in comparison with other states, between 47-49th, in surveys on taxing tobacco. Several studies show raising the tax would contribute greatly to revenue as well as affecting the millions Georgia spends in Medicaid coverage for health issues derived from smoking habits.
Petrea says he is announcing the bill this ahead of the 2016 session because he is hoping it gains momentum and backing as the legislature meets back up in January.