Atlanta Forward: Roy Barnes, Democrat for governor

I believe this recession has gone unused

● I’ve forgotten who said it, it was not original to me, that no recession should go unused, and I believe this one has gone unused. What we’d always done is use — as businesses have done — recessions and downturns as an opportunity to re-examine what the core mission of the state is.

● You are going to pick up some money from further cutting, but there’s a limit if you’re going to provide the basic services.

● You are going to have some growth in the next fiscal year. That’s going to give some relief.

● I do think that you are going to have to have some more revenue for a short period of time, two to three years. You’re either going to have to do it, or you’re going to suffer economically. We need to pick up ... about $1.3 billion to $1.5 billion in new money.

● I have become convinced we have to go to a point-of-sale sales tax collection, either by a privatized company or by a local [system]. Everyplace that I’ve read has picked up substantial funds from this. Even if we picked up 10 percent — that would be $600 million to $700 million.

● I would give a pop to capital gains. I believe we should suspend the capital gains rate for up to two or three years if you will reinvest ... in a Georgia company or a Georgia asset. I’d also suspend the state’s portion of the payroll tax for up to two years for every net new employee.

The economy

● Companies have enough net operating losses that tax incentives are the last thing they’re worried about right now.

● Believe me, the first thing an economic development prospect asks you is not about your corporate income tax rate; the first thing they ask you is, “Tell me what your [work force] skills level is and what your education level is, because we may move employees here.”

Education funding adequacy

● The truth of the matter is the delivery of education and the supervision of education needs to be re-examined. But you cannot do away with a teacher in a classroom.

That does not mean you have to protect everything in education. What you do is you prioritize within education. Direct instruction is protected. ... You might say, “You’ve gotta use those books another year.”

● I do favor a review of our funding formula with the state money being targeted ... toward instruction and allowing local governments to pay for administration. It allows a greater accountability on both sides.

Federal dollars in education

● I would fight the federal government ever dictating in detail what should happen, but setting broad goals, like in Race to the Top, I think is entirely appropriate. Encouraging common standards that are necessary for international competition I think are appropriate.

Two Georgias

● It’s dangerous for a state to become polarized. It’s dangerous for a General Assembly to seek to polarize them.

● You have to realize that different areas of the state have different needs. They ought to have a Link trip to bring folks from different parts of the state to the Atlanta region and from Atlanta to different parts of state.

Transportation

● The Atlanta region is the largest region I know of in the world ... without an integrated transportation system.

● You cannot build enough roads to get us out [of congestion]. You have to have a consistent way that is part of an overall plan. It doesn’t mean you close all the roads and everybody gets on a bus or mass transit. It is not an either-or situation. It is a choice situation.

Water wars

● Everybody says we need to just negotiate. We don’t have very much to negotiate with. Let’s face it, we’ve lost the case. I think we may get some relief, but I’m not very optimistic of overturning substantial parts of it.

● We have to recognize this as a storage and not a source problem. I think that we ought to acquire every storage facility we can, whether it be rock quarries, existing reservoirs, everything, so that we can use them in a coordinated way.

The Roy Barnes file

Age: 62

Home: Marietta

Education: University of Georgia, undergraduate and law degrees

Professional and political experience: Barnes served one term as governor, from 1999 to 2003, before being ousted by Republican Sonny Perdue. He was a state senator from 1975 to 1991 and a member of the state House of Representatives from 1993 to 1999. After leaving the governor’s office, Barnes spent six months as a volunteer lawyer with Atlanta Legal Aid, then opened the Barnes Law Group in Marietta.

Family: Barnes and his wife, Marie, have three grown children and six grandchildren

Source: AJC.com

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