As happens every year, politicians and pundits are still debating the results of this year’s legislative session. There’s no question that some key issues were left unresolved; however, the Georgia General Assembly did vote to send a strong, unmistakable message to business leaders, entrepreneurs and site selectors around the globe: Georgia is open for business.
As they grappled with a multibillion-dollar budget deficit, legislators had the foresight to understand that their actions could either help expedite or delay Georgia’s economic recovery. They closed a multibillion-dollar budget shortfall without creating new taxes and, more importantly, passed legislation to stimulate job creation and economic growth.
This action distinguishes our state from much of the rest of the country. Over the past months, 42 states, including Georgia, were forced to confront mid-year budget deficits totaling tens of billions of dollars. Additionally, 44 states projected deficits for 2010 that are nearly double the amount of the 2009 shortfalls. Of those states, at least 14 have already raised taxes, and others are considering similar action. But not Georgia.
Unlike those other states, the Georgia General Assembly understands that business — not government — is the engine of economic growth that has led us out of previous recessions. The legislation passed this year focused on providing employers direct incentives for job creation as well as additional tax reductions to free up capital for our state’s businesses.
Specifically, legislators passed bills that will provide tax incentives for hiring unemployed workers, repeal the state inventory tax, reduce regulatory fees and taxes on businesses, reduce capital gains taxes for businesses and individuals, and extend sales tax holidays on back-to-school items, as well as water and energy-efficient products.
Gov. Perdue was an important part of this effort, offering legislation to improve, clarify and in some instances expand various tax credits to provide relief for businesses in Georgia. Combined with the other stimulus-related state legislation, the governor’s final approval of these bills will create a unique and inviting economic climate in Georgia for businesses to relocate or expand.
These actions should provide great encouragement to the nearly half a million Georgians who are currently out of work. In addition, at a time when government is still struggling to inject sufficient capital into the market, the proposed tax relief will provide businesses and investors more of their own money for economic investment and growth.
The Georgia Chamber of Commerce understands that business is the best source of lasting job creation, market efficiency and long-term economic growth, and we appreciate legislators’ commitment to helping our state lead the way to effective economic recovery. Now, more than ever, Georgia is open for business.
George Israel is president and CEO of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and a former mayor of Macon.