Bills for Job Creation Lacking in Legislature; Voters Asked for and the Politicians Promised, but Little Is Happening at the Capitol

Article excerpt

Byline: WALTER C. JONES

ATLANTA - Throughout the campaign last fall and leading up to the current legislative session, politicians from both major parties repeated what voters had told them, that stimulating job creation was the top government priority. So, where are all the jobs bills in the legislature?

Now that the current session has eclipsed the Crossover Day deadline, no general bills that haven't already passed one chamber may be considered. That means the bills must already be in the pipeline.

There are two exceptions to the crossover deadline: local bills and an uncommon piece of legislation pending in a joint House-Senate committee dealing with tax reform. The tax-reform package is the product of recommendations made by an 11-member council after months of work designed to revamp the tax code into one that encourages job creation.

While the council was working, the legislative leaders took a hands-off approach. The result was a package of recommendations that contain some unpopular proposals. Reinstating the tax on groceries was the most controversial, but it was included to be able to lower personal and corporate income taxes to entice employers to locate in Georgia and add workers.

The grocery tax draws enough protests, but the council also recommended broadening what's subject to sales taxes. That includes veterinary services, Girl Scout cookies and popcorn sold by the Boy Scouts of America, all groups that have bombarded legislators and the public with protests.

Since the recommendations became public, legislative leaders have kept their distance from them. Lately, they've said whatever passes will be minus the most inflammatory proposals, without being specific.

Still, House Ways & Means Chairman Mickey Channell is halting consideration of most tax bills until the reform package is acted on.

Even the politicians aren't bragging of job-creation ideas. …