On Friday night, Governor Nathan Deal gave a speech at the 9th Congressional District Banquet located in the foothills of the Georgia Mountains. It was like the coach giving a pep talk to the home team. He started with, either you are on the “R” team or the “D” team. But right now the “R” is on the field. His point being, we have majorities in the legislature and hold every constitutional office, either we govern Georgia or we’ll lose our majority. He shared how he has applied conservative principles of cutting taxes and balanced budgets as his game plan to grow the state’s economy.
The state is required by the constitution to have a balanced budget. For the last few years, balancing budgets has meant cutting spending or very modest increases. Governor Deal stated even in these tough economic times we’ve balanced our budget and we are #1 in cutting taxes. He said the state has cut $62 million in taxes. The mantra of this administration is economic development.
His number one goal is to bring businesses to the state. Job One of this administration from this point on is the deepening of the Savannah port. It will bring business here. Job growth is limping along also. March was a very good month for job growth. Georgia’s had 20 consecutive months of job growth with over 62,000 new jobs added. Atlanta has 15 Fortune 500 companies and the northern corridor of Atlanta is attracting more white collar jobs.
All in all, it was a good night for the Governor in Dawson County. The next day, Speaker Ralston and Congressman Collins followed up on the same theme of unity.
Martha Zoller’s ZPolitics Takeaway: Georgia has done a good job managing through the recession and the budget. However, there’s a big part of the budget we can’t control–the federal part. Our budget is actually around the 40 billion dollar mark, with the rest in matching funds from the Federal government with lots of strings attached. The whole discussion about the Provider Fee renewal in this session came about because of the matching fund requirements for Medicaid and the agreement the state made when we took stimulus money from the feds in 2010. This isn’t just a problem for Georgia. Should the states just be administrators for the whims of Federal government regulation?
Our biggest obstacle to conservative fiscal values is our tax policy. We cannot continue to compete with states around us with both an income tax and a high sales tax in many counties.
Even though we are making some incremental changes to reverse this, we have a long way to go. I was encouraged to hear Speaker Ralston say to the 9th District Convention eliminating the income tax should be a top priority in the next legislative session.
Those who don’t want to eliminate the income tax say, how would we replace this lost revenue? Many of those voices are Republicans. Would this make the Georgia economy boom? What do you think Georgia should do? Zpolitics wants to know what you think by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
To use Governor Deal’s metaphor, as of now, no matter if it’s “Rs” or “Ds” on the field, isn’t the federal government really becoming our coach?