MARIETTA — A poll of Cobb’s four district commissioners reveals they are leaning in favor of a six-year term for a proposed 1 percent special purpose local option sales tax.
During a meeting between the Board of Commissioners and the county’s mayors last month, Lee asked the mayors if they supported a six-year SPLOST. All said they did, with the exception of Kennesaw Mayor Mark Mathews, who was absent.
Next, Lee asked the four district commissioners. Commissioner Helen Goreham said she supported a sales tax renewal for that length of time, but the other three said they needed more time to consider the idea.
Commissioners will vote July 22 on whether to call for a SPLOST referendum on Nov. 4, the length of time the tax would last and the list of projects it would fund.
Commissioner Lisa Cupid expressed her support.
“I would hope the public would support a six-year SPLOST because it enables us to do more,” said Cupid, who represents south Cobb.
AP: Do you believe the House and Senate should take a closer look at tax breaks, specifically corporate tax expenditures, and would you be willing to eliminate some of these tax breaks even though that would result in an effective tax increase on those businesses?
Kingston: Again, I don’t believe we have a revenue problem as much as we have a spending problem, so I would not want to have tax reform designed to increase the revenues. But we need tax simplification. We need a tax code that stimulates business growth. We need one that is simple to comply with, and one that is transparent so that you are not spending thousands of dollars to a CPA or an accountant to fill out your tax return. I support the fair tax, and I am endorsed by fair tax author John Linder and fair tax champion Congressman Rob Woodall. But I’m also supported by flat tax champion Steve Forbes. The last statistic I saw, and I’m always a little nervous quoting statistics, so I’m going to couch this by saying the last statistic I saw was that we spend 6 billion man-hours a year complying with the tax code. That’s time that could be better spent inventing a better mouse trap, curing some horrible disease or investing frankly in a plant expansion that would create more jobs. So we need, in order to compete in the international marketplace, a simpler tax system.
Perdue: No, I wouldn’t and the reason why is that, again, we already have a tremendous disadvantage. These are job creators, these are people that reinvest capital, they reinvest properties, they create jobs. And we have them already at a tremendous disadvantage against foreign competitors. Let me give you an example, our 35 percent corporate tax rate on manufacturing in the United States is competing with someone let’s say in Malaysia at a 16 or 17 percent corporate tax rate. … What we’ve had is 100 years of Congress and various administrations using taxes to direct activity, and how people operate. I believe that has put us at a tremendous disadvantage. It’s a very confusing and expensive burden on not only businesses but individuals. I have become a student of the fair tax, and I think it absolutely would level the playing field with foreign competitors and bring some manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. So I have become not only a supporter of that, but a proponent of that. So you say, how do you get the economy going again? It’s a very broad answer. But the number one thing to do to solve the debt crisis is to get the economy going again like we did in the 80s.
AP: As you just mentioned, you are against amnesty for the estimated 11 million people living in the U.S. without legal status. Do you believe they can and should be immediately deported? And if not, what would you propose the federal government do if not offer a pathway to citizenship?
KINGSTON: If you enforce existing laws, which would be part of the crackdown on those who knowingly hire, I think a lot of this works its way out. People would actually be inclined to leave on their own. They are very used to passing back and forth in the border. But we have to make a philosophical decision, are we a nation of laws? And any time you relax your immigration laws or interpretations of those laws, you get an influx of new illegals because word of mouth, people are watching, what is the policy of the White House? And in this case, what is it this year versus last year? Case in point of the children who have come over now from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. That was because of an Obama administration change in policy, and the policy change did not address Mexican children. So Mexican children are being turned around immediately and Honduran kids are not. It was a crisis created by the White House.
PERDUE: The Senate bill was over 1,000 pages, and it laid all of this stuff out and gives everybody a reason to not do it and here we are months later with nothing going on. I think the first thing we need to do is get a bipartisan agreement on the first component, and let’s secure this border. It’s a national security issue. And frankly we’re all being irresponsible for not doing it. And it’s not just Mexico. It’s Canada, it’s the ports, it’s the airports. This is a very open country. And with the technology we are seeing in terrorists hand right now, we should all be concerned. … Right now we are bringing in over 1.1 million legal immigrants, and that is over twice the high-water marks of the 1880s to the 1920s and even during the Reagan era, it’s more than twice. We have got to address the different components of that to see what is the right number, whether getting back to 500-600,000 is the right number. What is the right number? Nobody is talking about that. And look, I believe that when you secure the border then you can enter into a dialogue around what do you do about the people that are here.
AP: The chief criticism has been federal involvement in the initiative. If the federal government were to stop encouraging states to adopt Common Core and halt any coordination, communication or regulation on the issue, would that satisfy your concerns?
KINGSTON: I think it would. Georgia knows how to compete with neighboring states and does not need Washington bureaucrats to tell us how to run our schools. All states compete against each other right now for employers, and when a new business is coming to town, one of the questions they ask, is what kind of school systems do you have. For example, Douglasville just got the Keurig coffee company, 500 jobs. Keurig is not going to move a factory there unless they know that their employees will have access to good school systems. And if they can’t find it in the state of Georgia, they are going to go to South Carolina, Alabama, California, or wherever. I think there is a real competitive market mechanism that keeps this in check.
PERDUE: Common Core is not going to solve the education problem in this country. No Child Left Behind didn’t. Race to the Top didn’t. Common Core will not. … Common Core, at its best, is now a distraction from a debate around what the real issues are, and that is how do we get our kids to read by fourth grade, how do we get them to stay in school, how do we get them to be proficient in math and science and to be meaningful players in the economy when they get out.
MARIETTA — After spending more than 20 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, Jack Kingston believes he’s prepared to represent Georgia as a U.S. senator.
“I think people are more focused on issues rather than just name ID and creating a following,” said Kingston. “It started with (seven) candidates; there was a lot of confusion over who’s who. Now, people want to get more in the weeds on where are you on this or that kind of issue. People invite the debate now, and that’s healthy.”
Kingston faces businessman David Perdue July 22 in the Republican runoff for Georgia’s open Senate seat. The winner faces Democrat Michelle Nunn, daughter of former Senator Sam Nunn, Nov. 4.
Kingston said he’s a soldier fighting for the conservative cause. In contrast, he said, Perdue never voted in a Republican primary before deciding to run for Senate.
“I don’t apologize for the fact that while I was fighting Obamacare, he sat on a board that said we needed a national solution for the uninsured,” Kingston said. “I don’t apologize for the fact that while I was fighting the stimulus bill — both Obama’s and Bush’s, I might add — he was taking stimulus money on the board of Alliant Energy. I don’t apologize for the fact that I’ve been fighting amnesty and he sat on the board of the National Retailers Association and said the Senate amnesty bill was a step in the right direction.”
Perdue has criticized Kingston’s endorsement from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, saying the group disagrees with him on amnesty and Common Core.
SMYRNA — Cobb Commissioner Bob Ott says public safety and transportation are the top priorities on his special purpose local option sales tax wish list.
The Cobb Board of Commissioners will decide July 22 whether to put a 1 percent SPLOST, expected to collect $750 million over six years, before voters.
Ott, who represents southeast Cobb’s District 2, finished his list well in advance of the other three district commissioners.
Ott’s $127.7 million list includes $48 million in improvements to the Windy Hill Road area.
ATLANTA — Voters in the Republican Senate runoff who want an experienced hand who came up through the party ranks have that option in Jack Kingston.
His career is the life’s dream of teenaged political junkies. The volunteering he and his wife were doing at a fundraiser as members of the Savannah Young Republicans led to the chance to meet one of his heroes, Ronald Reagan, then a former governor running for president.
Kingston’s hard work and connections led to winning a seat in the state House of Representatives for Savannah in 1984. Six years later he became the first Republican to hold the First District congressional seat since Reconstruction, and he’s been in Washington ever since, rising in seniority and power over those 22 years.
Although he never had serious opposition after his first legislative race, he says he still likes campaigning. These days, he frequently runs into questions about his years in Congress spawned by negative television ads from runoff opponent David Perdue attacking him primarily for his votes on spending.
“One of the constant concerns you have is that people are too polite when they come up to you. I’d rather have them ask me head on,” he said.
Tapping into widespread disapproval of Congress, David Perdue campaigns as a candidate from the outside with fresh ideas and perspective.
It marks a stark contrast between him and his GOP Senate runoff opponent, Jack Kingston, a 22-year veteran of the House of Representatives from Savannah. Since Perdue spent his career in the executive suites of major corporations rather than politics, he’s not a stranger to the inner sanctums of power.
He headed corporations such as Reebok and Dollar General and sat on the boards of influential trade groups such as the National Retail Association. His cousin, Georgia’s first modern-times Republican governor, appointed him to the board of the Georgia Ports Authority.
The important thing, he says, is that he hasn’t been in Congress like Kingston and three other primary opponents.
“If they were going to make a difference, wouldn’t they have done it by now?” he asks, adding that the founding fathers envisioned citizen-legislators rather than career politicians.
At least two Cobb County residents will seek to block the public financing plan for the new Braves stadium when a court hearing is held this afternoon on the county’s intention to issue up to $397 million in bonds for the project.
The bond validation hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. before Cobb Superior Court Judge Robert Leonard, who was assigned the case after another judge recused himself last week. Under Georgia law, court validation is required before the bonds can be issued.
Cobb residents T. Tucker Hobgood and Rich Pellegrino have filed separate motions to intervene in the case, both objecting to the issuance of the bonds on a variety of legal grounds.
COASTAL GEORGIANS know the importance of Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield to their communities. But more importantly, they recognize the importance of this U.S. Army installation to America’s security.
That’s why the latest report from Washington about the Army’s proposed realignment for 2020 is alarming.
If leaders in Washington want to make America less secure as the world is becoming more unstable, they’re doing a bang-up job.
The Army’s the Supplemental Programmatic Environmental Assessment shows as many as 16,000 soldiers and Defense Department civilians could be slashed from Fort Stewart if drastic spending cuts are required by further sequestration. That’s not reducing fat. That’s cutting muscle and bone.
About 20,000 soldiers are stationed at the Southeast Georgia base. About 3,000 military civilians support what the soldiers do. This worst-case reduction in force — if it happens — would be devastating.
And Fort Stewart isn’t being singled out either. Nine other major Army installations face similar deep cuts.
No area of federal spending should consider it immune from spending cuts. Government must live within its means — and that includes the military.
At the same time, our nation’s budget shouldn’t be balanced on the back of the military either.