I sat down with Governor Deal in his office Tuesday afternoon and covered the “3 Big Things” you wanted to know.
First, I asked him about the Savannah Port Project. The President’s budget is coming out tomorrow (Wednesday). To date, Georgia has appropriated about $231 million since the end of the Perdue administration for projects related to the Savannah Port. Governor Deal points out this project is “really shovel ready.” A reference to the many stimulus projects that weren’t. The amount the state has appropriated to this point corresponds to the usual 70/30 match–70% by the federal government, 30% by the state government for projects of this type. The best outcome from the President’s budget would be a line item specifically for the Savannah Port Project. This project will be the legacy of the first two Republican Governors and will set the stage for explosive economic growth.
Second, we talked about the legislative session. Specifically, the inability to pass expanded gun carry laws. “I am a strong 2nd Amendment person,” Deal said. The Governor said the campus carry portion was the big issue. When asked, “Why not take out the campus carry part and then deal with the rest?” He said, “That would have been the simple way.” With that said, it didn’t pass. The Governor intends to get all the parties together. Then he made the point that good people can feel differently on where to carry and there are no right or wrong answers to the question of carrying in churches or on college campuses. The “opt in” debate on whether colleges could “opt in” to allowing student to carry on campus is universally agreed to be a non-starter.
Overall, Governor Deal says the session went “very well.” I asked him what part tax reform, specifically, the repeal of the Georgia income tax would play in a second Nathan Deal term. He said that was the goal, but in Georgia 50% of revenue comes from income tax and that unlike Texas and Florida, Georgia doesn’t have revenue from natural resources like oil. He didn’t close the door, but this is an issue he’ll have to hear from the electorate and find out their point of view.
All in all, an uneventful, but successful legislative session for Governor Deal and great groundwork for a re-election campaign with a little chance for a Republican primary challenge and no names being suggested as a Democrat to oppose him. Will he run unopposed? That’s still a question to be answered.
Third and finally, I asked the question about the U. S. Senate Race. Rep. Jack Kingston was accompanied to the Gainesville Rotary Club by a strong supporter of the Governor. The Gainesville Club is the Governor’s club and that was construed by some as a tacit endorsement of Rep. Kingston. The Governor said he had his own statewide race to worry about and dismissed the idea that Sen. Chambliss would resign early and cause there to be an appointment to his seat.
With the potential of 3 to 5 uncontested Congressional seats and one Senate seat, Governor Deal said this was not unlike the 1992 cycle that led to the election of Deal to the House with others–Jack Kingston, John Linder, Sanford Bishop and others. 2014 is going to be a big year in Georgia politics and Governor Nathan Deal is ready.
Join Martha Zoller every weekday from 6 to 9 am est on “Zoller and Bryant” on Fox News 1340 WGAU. Listen live on marthazoller.com or 1340wgau.com and you can hear a new set of “The 3 Big Things” every morning.