GA: No relief at the register this back-to-school season

By Laura Ann Sills - bioemail

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Everyone wants a good deal, and that is why many parents wait to do their back-to-school shopping until Georgia's No Sales-Tax weekend.  But, a legislative decision is taking away some of the relief at the register.

"They are crazy.  That is the best thing for parents like me. I am a parent raising 4 kids.  It is going to be hard, really hard," explained Stephania Melton, a mother of 4.

Since 2002, the sales-tax free weekend helped parents like Melton save on clothes, shoes, supplies and even computers.

Walter Watkins said, "We are in a bad crisis right now.  So, the economy is poor and they need to bring it back."

But, the Georgia legislature is also suffering from the poor economy. While the holiday saved parents money, it cost the state $12 million in revenue.  This year, they had to cut almost $2 billion from their budget.  "It was just not practical to have sales tax exemption or state holiday this year," explained State Representative Calvin Smyre.

Kali McDowell is a dad of two; his family looks forward to the holiday every year, "If the government does not have the money, what makes them think we do.  We need all the help we can get."

Ken McNair said his family will have to plan more this school year as his two daughters head back to school, "The legislature has to do a better job of protecting the budgets and need to hold themselves accountable, which I feel they do not."

Karen Johnson is worried the burden will fall on teachers to supply kids without the right resources, "As a former educator, I know that a lot of parents buy supplies, clothing, for their kids and some people are going to be in a big hurt. Lots of teachers use that weekend to buy extra supplies for less fortunate kids too."

State Representatives say there is potential for the tax exemption holiday next year.  Just last month revenues for the state were up 4%.  Rep Smyre explained, "2 of the last 3 months we have had a plus, so that shows you that the economy is coming back to a certain degree."

The National Retail Federation said retailers report a 30 percent increase in sales during tax-free shopping.

A similar break usually held in October for energy-efficient appliances and other items has also been put on hold for this year.

Alabama is still planning to hold their sales tax holiday which runs August 6-8.

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