Credit: Stanley Dunlap/Georgia Recorder
Georgia Senate committee endorses tax breaks for local police donations
Georgia senators are expected to vote soon on a bill endorsed by Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan that would create a $100 million tax credit program to support police and other law enforcement agencies.
The Senate Finance Committee unanimously endorsed Senate Bill 361 on Wednesday, at a meeting where Duncan promoted the program’s ability to increase pay, hire more officers, improve training, and better equip local police departments and sheriff’s offices.
The LESS Crime Act would allow individuals and businesses to take advantage of the $100 million annual tax break by donating to law enforcement foundations, which would be limited to receiving no more than $5 million.
Duncan is attempting to recreate the rural hospital tax credit program he proposed years ago to back struggling hospitals. His is one of several pro-law enforcement plans put forth by top Republicans, including Gov. Brian Kemp and House Speaker David Ralston.
Individual tax credits would be limited to $5,000 per person and 75% of a corporation’s taxable income.
“My goal is to take all the partisanship out of all the crime angles that we’ve seen unfortunately around the country and just give us all as Democrats and Republicans an opportunity to participate in making our neighborhoods safer across the state,” Duncan said.
The Georgia Sheriffs’ Association and the Atlanta Police Foundation also praised the plan’s ability to bolster local agencies struggling to retain officers.
“We need the state patrol, the GBI, (Department of Natural Resources) and others, but generally speaking when you’re going to call 911 almost exclusively you’re going to get a local police officer or deputy sheriff,” sheriffs’ association lobbyist Terry Norris said.
Duncan, who is not running for reelection this year, is the leading figure of the GOP 2.0 movement that aims to move the party beyond its loyalty to former President Donald Trump.
Sen. Larry Walker III said the measure forbids taxpayers from directing their contributions to a specific purpose or individual, as well as prevents contributions from people directly connected to the foundation or agency.
A criticism of the plan revolves around people being able to influence police officers through donations.
“I think it’s going to take some education on our part with the sheriffs and local law enforcement, but I think this could really be an answer to what they’ve been looking for for additional resources,” the Perry Republican said.
This story comes to GPB through a reporting partnership with Georgia Recorder.