The state chamber’s eggs and issues breakfast was a glorification of “free markets” and campaign speeches by Gov. Brian Kemp, Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan and U.S. Sen. David Perdue.
Only House Speaker David Ralston waved any flags. Ralston splashed a little cold water on the event by suggesting the House of Representatives might want a bit of discussion about the governor’s proposal to cut government spending.
Ralston was last in the pecking order of those who spoke, but the speaker carries a rather big stick in the General Assembly. He has been reserved in his comments about the governor’s proposals for state finances.
He said he did not plan on setting a legislative schedule until he understands a budget timeline. That probably gave the governor a bit of indigestion.
You’d never know from Perdue’s comments that he is a Donald Trump-acolyte. He talked about free trade and free markets as though he has been touting that non-stop. He must have missed Trump’s comments about trade, especially with allies such as Canada and Europe.
Duncan talked mostly about health care legislation and making the state “the east coast capital of technology."
The event, a must see-and-be-seen for the political class in the state, attracted 2,600 people, according to the chamber’s announcement.
Nearly every speaker mentioned the state’s “best for business” designation. Even Ralston touted the state’s film tax credits that has created a billion-dollar business in the state in the past few years.
It was not emphasized as much but Georgia’s QuickStart program for training new companies’ employees is much-imitated by other states. It is an attraction to companies such as Kubota and SK, older and newer firms in Jackson County.
Perhaps the eggs and issues breakfast was most helpful as a reminder to those of us outside the bubble of Atlanta to pay attention to what the governor and state legislature do with our money.
The legislature two years ago cut the state income tax by .25 of a point and could do that again this year. The governor did not mention another cut. The earlier reduction came on the heels of the federal tax cut, passed by the Republicans, amid a prediction that Georgia would soon be wallowing in revenue.
Then-Gov. Nathan Deal suggested it would be wise to see if that money materialized, but the legislature mostly ignored him. Deal looks a lot smarter today.
Chris Clark, state chamber president, touted his 10 points – as he does at nearly all appearances.
His 10 points sound much like Democratic talking points – helping those who are poor and environmental awareness were prominent – but his last bullet point was to “fight for free enterprise.”
The “war” for talent and creativity in companies seeking employees is among his points, as is a continued emphasis on “entrepreneurship.” I wonder where the “worker bees” or “grunts” will be amongst all the creative entrepreneurs. It is quite possible I missed something.
For reasons beyond understanding, Kemp’s opening dealt with gangs in the state. He emphasized gangs and what the state might do to combat their threat and foster children. Both are worthy topics, but the most important for the state and in front of a couple of thousand businesspeople?
It was a bit strange. Even his proposal to include the other $2,000 in raises for teachers might have been more important – first, as a way to tout the importance of education and, second, as a major cost to the state. Instead, he declared the state should “dismantle Common Core in our state.” Since it drew heavy support in the state when it was created, including from then-Gov. Sonny Perdue, perhaps he felt the need to strongly oppose it now.
The event covered a lot of territory, some of which was appropriate, but it gave short shrift to the legislature and what might be topics there.