Gov. Deal finds his inner Democrat on transportation

Gov. Nathan Deal, courtesy of City of Marietta, Ga.Gov. Nathan Deal, a Democrat-turned-Republican, may be a progressive at heart. Well, it may not go that far but at least he’s on the record today supporting a fundamental progressive value about how government should work.

While trying to win support for the Transportation Investment Act, Gov. Deal told a room full of corporate executives yesterday that he believes government investment in our public roads and transportation infrastructure will create more jobs.

Jim Galloway at the AJC reports the Governor’s words:

“And as you know, that has been the top priority for my administration – the creation of new jobs. New jobs are not going to come if people can’t get their employees to their jobs in a timely fashion.”

There you have it. Gov. Deal believes that our government has a responsibility to provide reliable transportation for the benefit of workers and businesses. Creating a business-friendly environment isn’t about a race to see who pays the lowest taxes. There are other important considerations.

Georgia government should be just big enough to keep us safe and invest in the things that allow every resident to live a happy and healthy life, like good schools, cops on the street, health care and an infrastructure that makes Georgia a good place to do business.

Under other circumstances, Better Georgia would applaud Gov. Deal’s admission that state government must be effective and just big enough to invest in reliable roads and transportation.

But sadly, Gov. Deal signed a pledge with D.C. lobbyist Grover Norquist to “oppose and veto any and all efforts to increase taxes.”

His pledge to Norquist means that Gov. Deal will “oppose and veto” investments that he knows are important to Georgians who elected him.

Because of that lobbyist pledge, Gov. Deal shirked his responsibility as a leader. Instead of telling Georgia voters two years ago that investment in public roads will create jobs, he cobbled together a complicated new regional tax structure that might potentially pay for needed transportation improvements. He created this new tax overlay system that divides Georgia into twelve isolated regions so that he could halfway honor his pledge to a D.C. lobbyist.

Georgia voters will decide July 31 whether to support Gov. Deal’s new scheme of regional taxes. If we want to start the economic engine for Georgia, voters must follow Gov. Deal’s advice and pay for this public sector investment which is a prerequisite for job growth.

If the T-SLPOST fails, the economic impact is on Gov. Deal’s hands.