Summary of recent Georgia newspaper editorials

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ATLANTA — Recent editorials from Georgia newspapers:

Sept. 26

The Brunswick (Georgia) News on the state looking to generate more taxes:

The Georgia General Assembly is continuing its hunt for more tax revenue, and this after jacking up the state gas tax and adding to the bed tax during its most current session for highway and transportation projects. Now, it's after the lodging industry again, only this time it is looking at house and cottage rentals.

Meanwhile, other committees are mulling over the idea of allowing casinos and pari-mutuel betting in Georgia, all in the name of generating more revenue for state coffers. Their justification for doing so: Georgians are spending money in casinos in other states.

When is enough ever going to be enough? The answer, of course, is never, not as long as government thinks it must be all things to all people. Taxpayers can only stand so much.

Here's a novel idea state legislators ought to consider: cut spending. At the very least, try moving tax-dollars from nonessential pile one to nonessential pile two or three. Do taxpayers really have to spend millions of dollars on new boat ramps and restroom facilities at boat ramps, investments that are just collecting dust due to nonuse?

Admittedly, there are many essential investments the Georgia General Assembly must make year after year with tax-dollars, public school education being top among them. Education is not, nor should it ever be again, one of the nonessential piles from which funds can be moved or rerouted. The state is still playing catch-up, and the recent Great Recession did not help matters any.

But there are scads of other budget areas where tax-dollars would not be missed if moved to another pile. Former Gov. Zell Miller knew how to shake the tree to find them when the need arose. If nothing else, legislators ought to ask him how he managed.

How nice it would be for everyone if state legislators invested more time figuring out how to spend what the state is getting and less time on exploring other potential sources of taxes. And make no mistake about it — "user fees" are taxes.



Sept. 28

The Augusta (Georgia) Chronicle on peanut executive's sentencing in deadly salmonella case:

Histrionic anti-capitalists try to convince Americans that corporations will do anything to make a profit - even if it means killing people.

Now they have an actual poster child: Stewart Parnell, the former CEO of the now-defunct Peanut Corporation of America.

He was sentenced last week in south Georgia to 28 years in prison for knowingly shipping out tainted peanut butter during the 2008 salmonella outbreak that killed nine and sickened more than 700 nationwide.

At age 61, Parnell's prison term - the longest ever in a food-poisoning case - is tantamount to a life sentence. And he deserves every bit of it, as does his brother, who got a 20-year sentence in the case, and his plant's quality assurance manager, who got five years.

Hard time is especially justified for Parnell - who invoked the Fifth Amendment at a congressional hearing - because he never expressed any repentance or remorse until after his conviction of 72 counts of fraud, conspiracy and the introduction of adulterated food into interstate commerce.

He carelessly, casually and callously turned one of America's favorite foods into a killer, but the only thing he seems truly sorry about is getting caught.

For that, Parnell deserves to eat all his future meals behind bars.



Sept. 27

Rome (Georgia) News-Tribune on Georgia's ranking as top state for doing business:

Once again, Area Development Magazine has named Georgia as the country's top state for doing business. Also in the top 10 were Texas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Florida, Indiana, North Carolina, Louisiana, Ohio and Kentucky. Georgia also got the top spot in last year's rankings.

Among the key reasons the magazine cited for that top ranking was Georgia's skill at listening to the marketplace, its cooperative state government and our strong workforce development programs.

Said the magazine, "It is not surprising to see Georgia rank as the Top State for Doing Business. Georgia places strong in overall cost of doing business and has a diverse workforce. Millennials are now driving the workforce equation, and their decision to call Southern States home has had a positive impact on the corporate and tech sector growth throughout the region. The Georgia difference has been that its longstanding corporate citizens have become team players in economic development. .

"In addition to economic development efforts, Georgia offers a highly educated labor market, affordable housing and office space, and access to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the world's busiest airport. The city of Atlanta sits at the intersection of three major interstate highways, with robust railroad access and the fourth-largest shipping container port just a few hours away in Savannah. This mobility makes the state attractive for all asset types.

"However, Georgia's competitors are not sitting back and watching Georgia grow without a fight. Georgia's playbook has been adopted by all of the states ranked in the top 10. Specifically, these states are listening to the marketplace and providing what is most important for business — a cooperative state government and strong workforce development for an evolving workforce. They realize that when companies make location decisions, time is money and the quicker you can get them to the ribbon-cutting, the better, because this translates to profit. This is why the South continues to outpace the rest of the country when it comes to a favorable business environment."

How interesting that all but two of the magazine's top 10 states for development (Indiana and Ohio) help anchor a region that for most of this country's history, until just the past few decades, in fact, was the most economically deprived and backward in the nation.

Georgia, and most of the rest of our region, has "turned it around" and is now pacing the field. And our leaders at all levels need to enhance and enlarge upon the policies that have gotten us to where we are.


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