Update 4:54 p.m.: This thing is almost done. It’s hard to distill a 3-hour-plus forum featuring 10 candidates (five Dems, five GOP) into this space. But if there is a takeaway, it very well could be that there was near agreement across both parties that the state Department of Revenue needs work.
Some of the candidates on both sides of the aisle were blistering in their criticism of the department and what they deem its inability to accurately and efficiently collect state sales taxes. Republican John Oxendine said Revenue is one of two agencies he would completely overhaul right off the bat if he’s elected. That’s as strong as anything that came from the Democrats.
That’s interesting because Revenue Commissioner Bart Graham was appointed by the current Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue.
Update: 3:45 p.m.: OK, add Republican gubernatorial candidate Austin Scott, the state rep from Tifton, to the list of candidates eyeing the sales tax.
Unlike the Democrats, however, Scott said he believes the extra sales tax collections should be used to eliminate the state’s corporate income tax.
Update: 3:43 p.m.: Sorry for the delay, folks. The Oxendine hunting news kinda got in the way there for a while. The Democrats are done now and the Republicans, including Oxendine, are on stage.
The quick summary from the Democrats, and more will be coming later, is that the state needs to do more to protect public education and that can be done without raising taxes. Nearly all of the candidates supported the idea that the state leaves hundreds of millions of sales tax dollars uncollected.
Update 2:23 p.m.: OK, they might be plants, but Ray City Mayor Carl Camon just got the first applause of the forum.
Update 2:18 p.m.: In a response to a question about problems in the relationship between state government and local leaders, several of the Dem candidates took direct shots at state Revenue Commissioner Bart Graham.
House Minority Leader DuBose Porter (D-Dublin) and former Adjutant Gen. David Poythress both said changes need to be made at Revenue that could lead to millions more coming to state coffers through sales tax collections.
Update 2:01 p.m.: OK, former Gov. Roy Barnes might have just gotten off the line of the day in the first five minutes.
After railing against the Republican-led General Assembly and the seven Republicans running for governor, Barnes summed up: “I am running as the anti-nut candidate.”
Original post: Here at the Atlanta Hilton, the Georgia Municipal Association is hosting a pair of gubernatorial forums.
The first, featuring the Democratic candidates, is about to begin. In about 90 minutes, the Republicans take the stage.
The whole thing wraps up around 5 p.m.
We’ll bring highlights/lowlights as they come and have full coverage on ajc.com and in the print paper in the morning.
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