2 Views on Growth: Incentives, Education; Perdue and Taylor Have Divergent Approaches to Bring Economic Development to Georgia

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Byline: WALTER C. JONES

ATLANTA - Few things show how different Mark Taylor and Sonny Perdue are as much as their approaches to economic development.

Both men want more jobs for their native state, but the route to them is where they part company.

Taylor, the Democratic nominee for governor, is willing to bet on education as the key component in employment growth. Perdue, the Republican governor seeking a second term, figures businesses hire more folks when it costs less to do so.

Taylor says as a young legislator from Albany, he was eager to overcome his hometown's job losses by offering ever more generous tax breaks and other incentives to lure out-of-state employers. But conversations with industry recruiters eventually convinced him that test scores, quality schools and trained workers were more important.

Now whenever he's asked about economic development, his first response is about his plans for improving public education. He also wants to generate excitement in other ways in state government, similar to past Democratic administrations.

"The No. 1 job of the governor is to be the chief marketing officer," he said, noting that Zell Miller as governor had the HOPE Scholarship and 6 percent teacher pay raises to crow about, and Roy Barnes could highlight his education reform and his Yamacraw project to boost Georgia's position in the telecommunications industry.

"There were new and exciting things that governors could point to," he said.

And Taylor has proposed several initiatives he could point to if he wins the election, such as universal health care for children.

Perdue, though, has a different goal. He wants to make doing business in Georgia as affordable and painless as possible.

For instance, he signed legislation that limits the awards in lawsuits because he said it would ultimately lower the cost of health care for employers if doctors' liability premiums stopped climbing. He signed tax breaks for businesses, large and small, as well as other legislation supported by corporate interests.

He's pushed additional taxpayer money toward road building and port expansion to make it cheaper for businesses to ship their goods out of Georgia to export markets. …