The deficit facing Gov.-elect Nathan Deal and the state Legislature is approaching $2 billion, and Deal is already warning that education budgets will once again be slashed. More teacher furloughs, more layoffs, more crowded classrooms, shorter school years … the list of impacts is lengthy and troublesome.
In the meantime, Deal is also insisting that the state corporate income tax — which generates $600 million a year — be eliminated to make the state more “business-friendly.” Yeah, that would require still more cuts in education, but hey, it’s all about jobs, you know.
In addition, the state tax-reform commission is expected to propose lowering the income tax and increasing the state’s reliance on sales-tax revenue, a move designed to shift still more of the tax burden onto the working and middle class and away from the wealthy. True, we’re already a low-tax state, but we ought to do anything we can do to help out the real producers.
But you know what I’m thinking? I’m thinking we should abandon the half measures and the pretending and really go for it. Our leaders should admit to the world and their constituents what they really think about the state of Georgia and its people, and I know just the way to do it.
Take the lottery-funded HOPE scholarship, which generates almost $1 billion for college tuition and pre-kindergarten programs. I mean that literally: Let’s take it.
Let’s stop wasting all that money on silly efforts to raise education levels in Georgia — we all know that’s hopeless anyway — and instead use it on things that really matter. Let’s impress them with just how far down this line we’re really willing to go.
So, if you’re a CEO and you bring 50 jobs to Georgia, we’ll cut you a personal check for $1 million. Five hundred jobs will net you $10 million deposited in the bank account of your choosing. With a billion dollars in the kitty, we could bring an additional 50,000 jobs to Georgia without breaking a sweat.
We could rename the program Helping Out Private Enterprise, or HOPE. It would be a public-private partnership that no other state could match. Think of the growth our new HOPE would bring! Think of the prosperity! It would be a marvel, I tell ya!
– Jay Bookman