The Georgia General Assembly just finished its regular session for this year, and what a contrast it showed between our federal government in Washington, D.C., and our state government in Atlanta.
In Atlanta we passed a balanced budget; in Washington, barely two weeks ago, the Democrat-controlled Senate barely squeezed out a budget for the first time in four years.
The Georgia Legislature debated making it easier for law-abiding citizens to carry a gun for protection; the administration in D.C. is proposing taking away Second Amendment rights from those who follow the law.
GEORGIA REPUBLICAN legislators are contemplating ways to eliminate the state income tax; liberals in the federal Capitol are raising income taxes and looking for ways to make other taxes higher.
Even during the recession, the Republican-controlled Georgia Legislature has passed a balanced budget each year. It has not been easy, and it was not easy this year. But on March 28, the state House and Senate passed a balanced budget and sent it to Gov. Nathan Deal. We also passed resolutions encouraging Washington to enact the same thing our state constitution has: a balanced budget amendment.
An amendment to our Constitution doesn’t make it easier for a government to live within its means, but it certainly mandates the process. We have cut and cut in Georgia until it hurts. Just ask one of several entities that depend on state funding. But we have managed and are better off for it.
By contrast, the printing presses have never stopped printing money in Washington. All that printing of money and federal deficit spending is going to catch up with us. The fiscal chickens that are coming home to roost because our federal government is out of control will have an impact much harsher than the more responsible method Georgia has employed of making tough budget choices each year.
While the Georgia Legislature is pondering how to make it easier for law-abiding citizens to carry weapons for protection, the administration in D.C. is proposing making it harder. We understand under the Gold Dome that the only thing to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.
The three high-profile national tragedies of recent years where a bad guy killed innocents – the school in Connecticut, the movie theater in Colorado and the college in Virginia – all took place in “gun-free” zones. In other words, the shooters had reason to believe they would likely be the only ones with a gun when they started their murderous rampage. Would more people be alive if someone could have shot back?
BILLS PASSED THE Senate and House in Atlanta to make it easier for honest people to protect themselves. In the coming months, I anticipate the differences will be worked out, and Georgia will allow more opportunity for good guys with guns to be around.
From liberals in Washington, all you hear is how much better things will be if we can just raise taxes again and again and again. No country ever taxed themselves out of a recession. That wisdom is lost on some, but not in Georgia. As hard as it is to cut budgets, it’s better than raising income taxes. In fact, bills are being introduced in Georgia, and the debate is becoming serious about how to eliminate income taxes at the state level once and for all.
A “fair tax” type discussion is taking place amongst Georgia legislators as to the best way to end the income tax and instead move toward a sales-tax-based revenue. This is not a new idea at the state level. Several states already do this. A few examples are Texas, Tennessee and Florida. All three of those states enjoy economic advantages over Georgia because they have eliminated their state income taxes.
Besides the fact it makes for better job creation, eliminating the income tax also encourages thrifty behavior. Moreover, you
no longer are penalized for working hard and earning more. Instead, you control more of your taxation by deciding when to buy. Keeping that lawnmower in good shape or repairing that grill instead of buying a new one means you pay less in taxes. We all win anytime you insert responsibility into society and reduce government.
THE CONTRAST between Washington and Georgia is great. We can hope the difference is enough to stem the spread of a national government that grows like a cancer and spends like a drunken sailor. Be proud that at the state Capitol in Atlanta, we spend time talking about personal responsibility, independence and God-given freedoms. Be worried that in Washington, those three ideas are passé.
The good Lord helps us all and gives us the wisdom to change the things we can. We begin every day of the legislative session in Georgia with a pastor of the day who brings us wisdom from the Scriptures. Let’s all pray for our federal government to receive and follow that wisdom as well.
(The writer represents Georgia House District 121, which includes portions of Columbia and McDuffie counties. He is an attorney in Evans.)