Gov. Sonny Perdue just met with reporters after a bill signing and made much news:
– The governor said the April revenue figures will be released today and they “are not encouraging.”
– He said he will veto H.B. 481, the tax credit bill that offered breaks to companies that hire unemployed workers, but which also included a late amendment to cut the state’s capital gains tax in half.
– But, he will sign S.B. 200, which overhauls the Department of Transportation by creating a new director of planning and giving the General Assembly much more power to oversee road spending.
– He signed into law H.B. 261, which gives anyone buying a home during a six-month period this year a $1,800 state income tax credit over three years.
Let’s take them one-by-one.
On April’s revenue figures, Perdue said it will be another negative month, meaning the April 09 collections of state personal income, sales and corporate income taxes will be below the April 08 collections. But, he said, April 2008 “were some of the highest we’ve had. It was a huge month to overcome.”
The state’s slide in revenue began in earnest in May and June 2008, which makes Perdue hopeful April 2009 “is the last bad month.”
He said he has met with the state’s planners to talk about contingency plans to keep the state on track to keep the state’s books balanced.
On H.B. 481, the governor said he agrees with much of what the bill would do, but “unlike the federal government, who can run a deficit, Georgia is a balanced-budget state and we cannot run a deficit.”
On S.B. 200, Perdue said it “goes a long way toward establishing the opportunity for our state to be planned in a holistic way over transportation.”
The appeal of the bill, he said, has nothing to do with the personalities of the DOT board, but instead it is the design of the board that is problematic.
“They are elected from a single congressional district, pledged to support and uphold that district, by its very nature does not lend itself to a statewide transportation plan,” Perdue said.
S.B. 200, he said, gives authority to the new director of planning to ultimately determine, on a statewide basis, where the state should focus its transportation resources. But, it also gives the General Assembly a “say in the budgetary sense.”
Perdue made all of these comments after signing H.B. 261 into law. It is a bill, he said, that will jump start the state’s economy by encouraging home sales.
But it is also an incentive, unlike H.B. 481, that is temporary.
“You don’t keep the jumper cables on forever,” he said. “Allow the economic engine to recover and charge itself.”