Ralston eyes tax reform to boost Georgia jobs — just not yet

This summer’s meeting of the Legislature is extremely limited in scope. That’s by design: Redistricting is such a deeply political process that it’s best to wait until a regular session to deal with other matters.

That’s the case even when those “other matters” include measures to help Georgia’s economy get out of neutral and put Georgians back to work.

“I don’t know of anybody who really would doubt the fact that [that’s] one of the things we ought to be about, more than any other here,” Speaker David Ralston told me in an interview in his Capitol office Tuesday.

“Not government creating jobs, but government getting out of the way and allowing a climate to grow where small businesses across the state feel safe in maintaining the number of employees they have or growing a few employees, [and where] new companies want to come here and do business here because of the economic climate that we have.”

By the numbers, Georgia’s employment situation is a mixed bag. The statewide unemployment rate in July was the same as it was a year earlier: 10.1 percent. The number of Georgians employed by the private sector was virtually the same as last July — although that’s mostly because losses in metro Atlanta barely canceled out gains in the rest of the state.

On the bright side, Gallup’s “job creation index” — which compares the number of people who say their firms are hiring to those whose employers are shedding jobs — ranked us No. 10 in the nation in the first half of 2011. In our region, only South Carolina fared better. By this and other measures, Gallup put Georgia in the middle of the pack from 2008 to 2010.

Improving that situation will return to the agenda come January, when the General Assembly convenes its annual 40-day session. The centerpiece, Ralston said, will be taking another crack at revamping Georgia’s antiquated tax code.

“I view tax reform as a jobs plan,” Ralston said. “That was what was…driving me primarily on that issue last session. I think there are some things that we can do.

“We’ve looked at what other states are doing — Texas, Virginia, North Carolina and others that have had pretty good track records on jobs over the last few years, and there’s no reason we can’t be as competitive as any of those states.”

Tax reform was the subject of a months-long study by business leaders and economists from across Georgia, who presented their recommendations just before this year’s session.

Lawmakers scrapped some of their ideas, such as restoring the state sales tax on groceries as part of a sharp shift of the tax burden from income to consumption. The resulting plan lowered income tax rates less impressively. A dispute over the underlying data finally led Ralston to pull the plug on it.

“People can have honest differences about the policy, one way or the other,” Ralston said Tuesday. “Do you support an energy exemption, for example, which I think would be huge…to jobs here in Georgia. You can oppose that as being a budget-buster.

“But what I think we can’t have is a debate about whether the data is credible and whether it’s reliable, and that was the concern I had there in the closing days of the session.”

Less likely to gain favor is joining the other 49 states in letting our state pension plans invest in venture capital funds, in hopes of attracting investors’ money to Georgia’s start-ups.

Ralston said he’s “not outright, categorically opposed to that,” but he is wary of repeating other states’ mistakes.

One place not to look for a hiring spurt: the state budget. “Even given the modest increases we’ve had in revenues over the past 12 to 14 months, we’re still in a budget crisis,” he said.

Come January, this summer’s redistricting fights might be a relatively fond memory.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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102 comments Add your comment

Road Scholar

August 25th, 2011
6:04 am

Let’s wait a few more years; we don’t need jobs! This proves the Repubs don’t have a clue, other than place a larger burden on the poor and middle class.

Lil' Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

August 25th, 2011
6:14 am

Road Scholar: Let’s wait until after our Martha’s Vineyard vacation; we don’t need jobs!
———————–

Fixed.

indendent voter

August 25th, 2011
6:29 am

Repubs don’t want to ” place a larger burden on poor and middle class “…they just don;t want to send any more money up to Washington…. where it gets redistributed for political favors… you get back less than 50 cents on the dollar for your tax $$$$.. Gov’t can’t create jobs… lower, simpified flat taxes… reform tax loopholes…. less regulations… Gov’t needs to get out of the way in a free markey economy…. look at the Post Office.. Energy Dept.. and yes the military !!!

DeborahinAthens

August 25th, 2011
6:39 am

“I view tax reform as a jobs plan…” Ralston says. THAT’S the problem, brainless Repugs keep doing the same thing over thinking that the end result will be different. If cutting taxes created jobs we would not have shed 8.5 million jobs during George Bush’s reign…uh…administration. Do you not get it? During Clinton’s adminisitration (when the tax rates were only 3 percent higher than where they are now) much Federal money went to fund things like scientific research that Repugs hate so much. The money made programs ramp up, so not only did the scientists, technicians, etc benefit, but the ancillary businesses surrounding these programs (building contractors, the lunch stand people, the people that made the materials that made the products that were being invented) benefited. There are other thing to cite–only government builds roads, bridges, water and sewer systems. Our infrastructure is crumbling while the Republicans fiddle. These infrastructure projects, funded with taxes, creat jobs. The guys that build the projects spend their paychecks on goods and services. Because Obama has been a proponent of thses types of projects, Republicans denegrate and defile them. They are idiots with no plans of their own as to how to get this economy unstuck. Those of you that keep electing the Republicans on the basis of cutting taxes and expect a growing
economy refuse to face facts. Go to the DOL and look at the facts, people. Then you right wing Christian Fundamentalists slobber over Perry, a man that bad mouths the Obama Stimulus while taking hundreds of billions of stimlus money to balance Texas’ budget. The job creation he touts is a joke. The new jobs are not “real” jobs where a product is made. Most are minimum wage service jobs. The other reason Texas looks good are the petroleum industry jobs that may have come about because of the increase in oil prices. Ralston keeps repeating the mantra of lower taxes create jobs and the kook-aid drinkers keep believing as this state spirals into oblivion.

indendent voter

August 25th, 2011
6:44 am

Deborah…. get to work… you’re late for your gov’t job !!

Karl Marx

August 25th, 2011
6:46 am

Face it, Ralston isn’t about creating jobs in the private sector no matter what he said. That silly tax “reform” plan last year was really a massive tax increase. It even created new taxes on labor charges.. If we are to have real tax reform these RINOs will not be the ones to do it.

jconservative

August 25th, 2011
6:58 am

Net US job creation in the last 40 years:

1970’s 27%
1980’s 20%
1990’s 20%
2000’s 0%
2010’s ?

There is a trend here.

Percentage of income received by the lowest 60% of Income Earners

1970 32.30%
1980 31.20%
1990 29.30%
2000 27.30%
2009 26.60%

There is a trend here.

Viet Vet

August 25th, 2011
6:59 am

Independent voter wins the award for the lamest rebuttal of the day. Don’t take it too hard, son, someone is bound to chime in with a “libtard” comment and save you.

Ronnie Raygun

August 25th, 2011
7:27 am

NC has a better economy because they’ve invested in education and infrastructure over the past 20 years. (something GA has neglected) Virginia has a huge population of evil federal government employees and contractors. Texas has oil and gas under their state and energy prices are high.
GA can only hope to emulate one of those states (NC) and tax cuts ain’t gonna do it.

DeborahinAthens

August 25th, 2011
7:37 am

Independent voter…you shouldn’t jump to conclusions…I am fairly well off because I happen to earn my living as a capitalist…that’s why it’s important for me to know the real facts instead of the dogfood the Repugs serve you guys. Without the real facts, my clients and I would be among the lower fifty percent that you guys like to characterize as sucking off the teat that you somehow think you support. I have given you facts–easily checked. I live and die by the facts. What have you given us? Did you even go to the DOL website to check the facts before popping off? See, I see you living in a “modular home”, you go to church religiously, have five kids–all homeschooled — and at least two guns, One is a “thirty ought six” you keep by your front door and the other is a handgun you keep handy for the bad times when the “bad element” gets out of hand. Did I nail your profile? Now you go to your job, if you are fortunate enough to have one.

Ayn Rant

August 25th, 2011
7:46 am

In other words, Kyle, the Georgia politicians don’t have a clue about how to create the jobs that are needed to pull Georgia or the nation out of stagflation. What’s more, they’ve misdiagnosed the problem. There is an excess of capital but not enough consumer spending to support profitable investment of capital in new and expanding business. Measures that increase capital rather than consumer demand are useless.

Income tax reduction for taxpayers that already have enough income to support their lifestyle creates more excess capital but little consumer demand. Measures like cutting state government spending kill jobs, reduces consumer demand, and makes matters much worse.

The measures that will work are to convert some of the excess capital into consumer spending. This can be done by taxing excess income, taxing wealth (property and financial holdings), and distributing the proceeds to worthwhile infrastructure projects and to the poor, who will spend it. That will create the consumer demand that creates the investment opportunities that creates jobs.

I’m not making this up, you know. It’s simple economics, and it works in the balanced economies of countries like Germany, the Netherlands, and the Scandinavian states. Those economies survived the world-wide economic recession without much pain, and have sustained growth of both jobs and capital.

The idea was first expressed by Christ in the first four books of the New Testament.

Lil' Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

August 25th, 2011
7:52 am

“THAT’S the problem, brainless Repugs keep doing the same thing over thinking that the end result will be different.”
——-

Nine. Percent. Unemployment.

Never happened on our President Bush’s watch.

Tiberius

August 25th, 2011
7:54 am

There is only so much a state can do in the job creation arena. Since they can’t print money they don’t have like the federal government can, tax policy, regulations and infrastructure are pretty much it.

Taxes in this state are probably low enough right now, but should be shifted more towards the consumption side, but the Ralston plan remains a disaster in the way it tries to do this. The last thing you want to do is jeopardize your revenue stream in a down economy that shows no sign of sustained recovery by lowering taxes further.

Infrastructure is problematic in this state. Water needed to attract some of the manufacturing firms that need it in their processes is questionable, even if the Lake Lanier issue gets settled. This state will remain water-poor (unless we can tap the Tennessee long-term). The rail system is good enough, however, it is concentrated in areas that are less than desirable for firms trying to move here in that the traffic and lifestyle issues that also accompany the rail system centralization do not help. No need to comment on the road system. It is what it is.

Regulations are the key to attracting businesses, especially at the state and local level. The state needs to create enterprise zones where new construction is fast-tracked through shortened and expedited permitting processes. If a company can be up and running in half the time it might take in another state, they’ll look more favorably at us when all is said and done.

Lil' Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

August 25th, 2011
7:54 am

THAT’S the problem, brainless Repugs keep doing the same thing over thinking that the end result will be different.
———

Uh, actually, the result WAS different from 2001-2008. 4-6% unemployment.

Obozononics

August 25th, 2011
7:56 am

Road Scholar;
Since the democrats had control for about 150 years our economy in Georgia should be so vibrant that no republican could take it down in a few short years, right? So really who has no clue?

JDW

August 25th, 2011
8:00 am

Ahh yes the creativity of our erstwhile Georgia Republican Leadership…
“I view tax reform as a jobs plan,”

I guess tax reform would cure cancer, foster world peace and rid the world of poverty if given a chance. :roll:

I don’t suppose any of these “librul” ideas would help…

-Fixing our transportation woes
-Repairing the banking system that leads the nation in banking failures
-Creating a coherent water supply strategy for the main employment center of the state
-A real plan to address our pitiful educational standing
-Stop trading real jobs in education and other governmental functions for tax cuts we hope might create jobs to replace them
-Coherent plans to increase the skills of our workforce
-A funding strategy to help entrepreneurs create new companies…psssst if you look at the data NEW companies create the jobs not “small business”

Ahhh I remember the good ole’ days…years of unemployment lower than the national average, growth higher than the national average, consistently being rated as “one of the best places to live/start a business…then came 2000 and the Republican scourge.

Obozononics

August 25th, 2011
8:00 am

Since all of these brilliant democrats keep preaching fairness, equality and sharing the burden, in a bad economy, why aren’t you smart folks pushing the FairTax.org? You can’t get any more fairness or equal than that? Or just tell the truth fair to you means taking from people that have more and giving to those that have less, please tell me how that is fair?

Tiberius

August 25th, 2011
8:01 am

DeborahinAthens, you might want to pay a bit more attention to the subject at hand before your next stream of consciousness post.

Kyle is writing today about GEORGIA’S attempts at job creation.

You attack NATIONAL issues with the GOP.

And see these little spaces between lines? They’re called paragraph breaks. You might wish to use them every now and again to organize your thoughts.

JDW

August 25th, 2011
8:01 am

@LBB…”Uh, actually, the result WAS different from 2001-2008. 4-6% unemployment.”

You are right it took the Repugs 7 years to raise it from 4% to 6%, but take heart they are getting better, it only took 3 to get from 6% to 10%.

indendent voter

August 25th, 2011
8:03 am

Woah !!! Deborah…. why all the HATE.??? do you HATE people that live in modular homes or go to church ???? too much CNN ?? we;d all be way better off to think Independently… not Demo or Repub… good people are in BOTH parties… I’m just a businessman… I know less gov’t is better.. our system is broken.. read what you said again ??? tax reform would benefit us all.. Rich have loopholes.. we need to drain the swamp… Term limits !!

JDW

August 25th, 2011
8:04 am

@LBB “Nine. Percent. Unemployment. Never happened on our President Bush’s watch.”

:roll: He’s just the guy that “rolled the ball down the hill”

Tiberius

August 25th, 2011
8:11 am

“I don’t suppose any of these “librul” ideas would help…”

No, JDW, they won’t help. Because they aren’t “ideas” but rather are gripes and complaints.

Which from what I’ve seen you seem to specialize in.

JDW

August 25th, 2011
8:26 am

@Obozononics…”why aren’t you smart folks pushing the FairTax.org”

‘Cause, ughhhhh, duhhhh it won’t work. Check your Politifacts…

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2008/jan/23/adding-fairtax/

JDW

August 25th, 2011
8:26 am

JDW

August 25th, 2011
8:27 am

@Tiberus….”Because they aren’t “ideas” but rather are gripes and complaints.

And I suppose griping about “high taxes” when the tax burden is the lowest in sixty years is breaking new ground?

Finn McCool

August 25th, 2011
8:29 am

Keep lowering those tax rates, we don’t need paved roads. let the asphalt breakdown into dirt roads.

Have you noticed the number of potholes in Atlanta the past couple of years? Of course that creates jobs for mechanics and tire companies.

carlosgvv

August 25th, 2011
8:32 am

“not Government creating jobs, but Government getting out of the way”

Translation – Going back to laissez faire where Business is not regulated in any way so they can lie, cheat, steal and scam the public as much as they please. In return, they will give us politicians tons of cash for our election and re-election campaigns.

Phil's Tel-A-Gramm

August 25th, 2011
8:41 am

Kyle,

I have not read that link you provided to the recommendations for tax reform but I was wondering one thing: Do they happen to define “fairness” in the text given that they use the word in the title of the document?

DebbieDoRight

August 25th, 2011
8:52 am

LBB: Road Scholar: Let’s wait until after our Martha’s Vineyard vacation; we don’t need jobs!

LBB: Nine. Percent. Unemployment. Never happened on our President Bush’s watch.

Little Barry – here’s a Hillary’s helpful hint from one of your own (see below):

Kyle is writing today about GEORGIA’S attempts at job creation.

Notice the words GEORGIA. Exactly when are you going to blame the people in charge of GEORGIA (republicans) for GEORGIA’S problems? Or is it too much for you to turn off your auto-hate of Obama and actually
THINK before you post? Duh!

DebbieDoRight

August 25th, 2011
8:55 am

This needed to be highlighted:

-Stop trading real jobs in education and other governmental functions for tax cuts we hope might create jobs to replace them

Phil's Tel-A-Gramm

August 25th, 2011
9:01 am

Kyle,

What did you think of these comments by Mr. Frazier in that link of yours:

… Consistent with the principle of fairness and equity, we took a critical look at exemptions to the state’s sales tax system and other tax preferences and have made recommendations to eliminate or sunset many of those. Another overarching concern for us was maintaining the state’s triple AAA bond rating. Loss of this AAA rating could cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars in unnecessary interest expense…

saywhat?

August 25th, 2011
9:06 am

My rectum was itchy. I was unsure what to do about it, but then the answer came to me- TAX BREAKS! They fix everything.

Perhaps somebody should remind Ralston of the old saying “When the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem starts to look like a nail”.

jconservative

August 25th, 2011
9:08 am

Sherman Antitrust Act – 1890
Clayton Act -1914
Fair Labor Standards Act – 1938
Fair Packaging and Labeling Act – 1966
The Safety and Health Act – 1970

Beth Merkleson

August 25th, 2011
9:28 am

We could have completely reformed the entire state economy if Evil Overlord Casey Cagle hadn’t allied himself with the Democrats. Only a heroic effort by my good friend and true Republican Cecil Staton stopped him, and that took up so much time we couldn’t fix the economy.

So if you’re unemployed, blame Casey and the Godless Democrats, it’s all their fault. I swear on my dear mother’s grave.

Phil's Tel-A-Gramm

August 25th, 2011
9:52 am

Kyle,

What does the following sentence mean to you:

“Similarly situated taxpayers should pay approximately the same amount of tax.”

Would you interpret, for example, “similarly situated”, to mean “those within a given geographic area”, like, in Georgia! :lol:

Lil' Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

August 25th, 2011
10:18 am

Jobless claims rise. Again. Prior week’s jobless numbers revised upward. Again.

Your Idiot Messiah inherited a recovery and blew it, along with over $4 trillion we don’t have.

Kyle Wingfield

August 25th, 2011
10:27 am

I can tell who doesn’t have a clue about the tax reform plan by their comments. If you have said anything about “lowering taxes” or “cutting taxes,” you don’t have a clue — because the goal is to have a revenue-neutral proposal.

But the worst of all is saywhat’s 9:06 about TAX BREAKS! Why is it the worst? Because the goal of the reform is the *exact opposite* of TAX BREAKS. The goal is to eliminate TAX BREAKS in exchange for lower marginal rates that don’t favor one group or activity over others.

Karl Marx

August 25th, 2011
10:38 am

The tax reform plan offered LAST year was NOT “revenue neutral”. Also if you eliminate “tax breaks” you are increasing taxes on the person who is loosing that break. Last year the target for the increase was the middle class in Georgia.

Kyle Wingfield

August 25th, 2011
10:45 am

Karl @ 10:38: And that’s why it was pulled. No one was sure about what would happen to whom, because the bill got too many rewrites in too little time.

The goal originally — and still, as I understand it — was to keep total revenues steady.

Really?

August 25th, 2011
10:47 am

Lil’ Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)
August 25th, 2011
7:52 am
Nine. Percent. Unemployment.
Never happened on our President Bush’s watch.

—————————————————————-
Zero. Job. Growth. In. A. Decade.

That’s only ever happend on our President Bush’s watch.

Furious Styles

August 25th, 2011
10:53 am

Georgia will keep waiting, just like they’ve waited for traffic fixes.

Hillbilly D

August 25th, 2011
10:55 am

Not government creating jobs, but government getting out of the way and allowing a climate to grow

Handing out tax breaks, which is what he’s really talking about, isn’t “getting out of the way”, in my opinion.

redneckbluedog

August 25th, 2011
10:56 am

So you would rather have 1% of the population hold 40% of the wealth than have them pay higher taxes…So, where would you have it end..?!?! 50%..? 60%..? How about go all in….You know in Russia, long considered a plutocratic oligarchy, the wealthiest 1% hold 40% of that country’s wealth, too…..The founding fathers wrote ELECTIONS into the Constitution for a reason..so we could GET TO KNOW our leaders…supporting sending money to “creepy anonymous overlords” that we don’t even know is anti-American, anti-Constitutional, crazy, and stupid…..I would rather let the government, who we know and elected have the power than anonymous CEO’s….We may not LIKE the government…but at least we KNOW WHO THEY ARE….!!!!!

Really?

August 25th, 2011
10:56 am

Lil’ Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)
August 25th, 2011
7:54 am
Uh, actually, the result WAS different from 2001-2008. 4-6% unemployment.

Let’s just ignore the fact that Bush handed off a 7.8% unemployment rate in Jan of 2009. Under his watch, unemployment went from 4.2% to 7.8%. At least Obama has tempered that, and jobs are actually being created in the private industry. It’s the government layoffs (thanks tea party) keep the unemployment rate high.

Aquagirl

August 25th, 2011
11:12 am

Kyle, you might want to ease up on the posters, considering how PO’d Ralston and co. were when Stacy Abrams and poindexters of Ga. State informed them their bill would increase taxes, and shared that info with everyone else.

If your Republican elected officials are that clueless (or backhanded) the general public is understandably confused as to what they’re trying to accomplish. Not to mention Mr. Ralston used the term “tax cuts” when complaining about his derailed tax increa…excuse me, tax reform.

“”With all due respect, I’m not sure my friends in the Democratic party have ever seen a tax cut they’re going to be pleased with. We just have a basic disagreement with them. They believe we need to keep more money in the government coffers, because government makes better decisions than taxpayers do in how to spend it…”

http://blogs.ajc.com/political-insider-jim-galloway/2011/04/13/your-morning-jolt-david-ralston-criticizes-democratic-stones-thrown-at-tax-overhaul/

If you don’t trust your lamestream liberal media collegue, right around 2:17 in the WABE interview, Ralston himself says “our objective was to be….was for this to be a TAX CUT, or at least to be revenue neutral….”

Now you’re acting like Georgia Republicans weren’t trying to sell “tax reform” as something else? And jumping on posters for saying that? Puh-leeze, Kyle.

Hillbilly D

August 25th, 2011
11:23 am

Aquagirl

In my opinion, that tax reform bill was always meant to be a tax increase but they got caught. That’s why they backed off it.

Obozononics

August 25th, 2011
11:24 am

JDW,
After having read what you wanted me to I am sure that the fair tax will work, all that was printed there was conjecture, and false arguments, so tell me again why 77,000 pages of loopholes is good for America?

Aquagirl

August 25th, 2011
11:32 am

In my opinion, that tax reform bill was always meant to be a tax increase but they got caught.

Hillbilly, in their defense, they could have simply been confused. That’s right, Speaker Ralston’s outrage might have been genuine. I bet if you pull the string in his back he’ll sound like Barbie: “Math class is tough!”

Kyle Wingfield

August 25th, 2011
11:35 am

Aquagirl: And dozens and dozens of times before that, the goal of the reform was consistently described as being revenue-neutral.

I will grant you this: By the end of the session, the GOP had so badly bungled the reform that it was left trying to make one significant corporate tax cut (energy exemption) and one rather piddling individual tax cut (top rate from 6 percent to 5.75 percent) just to pass *something*. It was a horse of a different color by then. But it wasn’t going to pass because a) the numbers were dodgy because of the fast and furious tweaking of the plan, and b) too many legislators were still interested in the broader reform they’d set out to do in the first place.

My take is that the sudden, emphatic talk about “tax cuts” was an attempt to minimize the reputational damage from a much-hyped, bigger reform gone awry. (You might call it “spin.”) And that, given more time to work on the plan, the focus will return to crafting a broader, revenue-neutral plan as originally intended.

That’s certainly how their proposal come January will be judged.

Don't Tread

August 25th, 2011
11:58 am

“A real plan to address our pitiful educational standing”

Well, we tried Beverly Hall, The Savior For All Educational Woes…now there’s a liberal idea that didn’t work so well.

Anyone else notice that most of the states at the bottom of the Job Creation Index were blue states? And most of the states at the top of the index were red states? You know, those supposedly backward states that don’t give a hoot about education?

Wonder why that is?