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Wednesday, March 10, 2010 - 12:56pm

Lawmakers Look to Fees to Balance Budget

To balance the state budget, lawmakers know they need to bring in more money. In this election year few favor more taxes, but raising fees is the easiest solution to state-wide budget woes.

Georgia has about 1,800 different fees. They cover court filings, inspections and professional licenses.

Most fees are expected to be raised as state lawmakers face a massive budget shortfall. Some members of the General Assembly suggest that the proposed $1 tobacco tax should be viewed as a fee, rather than a tax, and could bring in as much as $300 million.

House Appropriations Chair Ben Harbin (R - Evans) agrees, but he is not ready to push for the tobacco tax just yet.

"It probably fits in the fee category because if I don't smoke I don't use it. And we're looking at it. I just don't know if this is the year."

Harbin says everything is still on the table. Meanwhile, driver's licenses and hunting and fishing fees will not increase.

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