Friday, December 15, 2017

Georgia legislators propose tax breaks and better broadband to lure people to rural areas

"A powerful group of state lawmakers approved sweeping proposals Wednesday designed to encourage people and businesses to move to rural Georgia," Mark Niesse reports for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "The group voted unanimously to support income tax breaks worth up to $6,000 a year, high-speed internet lines in unconnected areas and better health-care access."

The recommendations from the Rural Development Council of the state House could be enacted by the legislature next year. Among the RDC's proposals are an income-tax deduction worth up to $3,000 a year for anyone moving to a rural area, twice that in counties that also give property-tax discounts for new residents; funding for internet companies to offer high-speed service in underserved areas; and a new Center for Rural Prosperity and Innovations, possibly at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton, to help communities recruit businesses and identify growth areas.

The panel also recommended that as Georgia eliminates its certificate-of-need regulation for hospitals in populated areas with many health-care options, it should keep the rules in effect for rural areas, where hospitals are struggling to survive. Georgia is one of the Republican-run states that did not expand Medicaid under the Patient Protection and Affordable care Act.

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