Environment

Ga. ‘Trust Fund’ Law To Dedicate Fees Makes Progress, Following Years Of Advocacy

When someone buys new tires, the state collects a dollar per tire. That money could end up going to Georgia's general fund instead of to the state's solid waste fund, which pays to clean up illegal tire dumps and help with recycling and landfills.
When someone buys new tires, the state collects a dollar per tire. That money could end up going to Georgia's general fund instead of to the state's solid waste fund, which pays to clean up illegal tire dumps and help with recycling and landfills.
Credit Johnny Kauffman / WABE
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Georgia lawmakers are considering a bill that would dedicate the money from fees that the state collects to what the state says the money is for.

To explain, here’s an example: Georgia’s scrap tire fee.

When someone buys new tires, the state collects a dollar per tire. That money could end up going to Georgia’s general fund instead of to the state’s solid waste fund, which pays to clean up illegal tire dumps and help with recycling and landfills.

Rep. Bert Reeves, a Republican from Marietta, said it shouldn’t be that way.

“When we pass a dedicated fee and we require people to pay that money for that thing, I think there is a level of accountability on the General Assembly to actually use that money for what we say we do,” he told a Georgia Senate committee Monday.

He’s sponsoring legislation that lists a handful of trust funds. Among them, ones that deal with children’s health, transportation, environmental cleanup and fireworks. If the bill passes, the money the state collects on fees related to those funds would be required to go to them.

“This is just taking a little slice of things that we said, ‘This is what we’re using that money for,’ and it’s mandating it by law,” Reeves said.

There are exceptions: The maximum amount that could get directed to these funds, total, is 1% of the state’s budget; and if there’s a fiscal emergency, the state could dip into those funds for other purposes.

Last year, Georgia voters approved an amendment to the state constitution to allow state lawmakers to make this change.

Getting to this point has been a years-long project of environmental advocates and others. Two of the proposal’s supporters in the state Capitol — the late Rep. Jay Powell and the late Sen. Jack Hill — died before Georgians passed the amendment.

The bill passed out of the Georgia House earlier this month and passed the Senate finance committee Monday afternoon.

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