Dr. Henry Thomassen, economic adviser to Gov. Roy Barnes, seems quietly optimistic about Georgia’s immediate economic future, though he cautions there is no immediate sign of any surging rebound from the current recession. “We are probably bumping along the bottom right now,” he says. “Recession means going from a peak to a trough and we’ve done that, but there are fewer signs that we are going down any more.” July and August and maybe a couple of months beyond are probably still at trough level, Thomassen believes, but there are some positive signs, such as strong automobile sales and a vigorous real estate market, which translates into sales of home furnishings. Individual income taxes are down more than sales taxes, he says, because even with the employment level not growing and actually down some, people still spend money by dipping into savings or receiving unemployment benefits. “If we had a jolt, like another Enron, that would affect the economy overall,” he notes.
By 2005, Georgia stands to lose more than $100 million a year in revenue, thanks to the gradual elimination of the state death tax credit by President Bush and Congress. “For tax returns filed on estates this year, the state death tax has been reduced by 25 percent,” says Larry Childers of the Georgia Department of Revenue. “In 2003, that amount increases to 50 percent, then 75 percent in 2004. By 2005, the state death tax will be eliminated altogether.” During the last fiscal year, revenues collected from the state death tax comprised 1 percent of the state’s total budget, or $128 million. In fiscal 2000, that figure was $130 million. Prior to this year, tax returns were required on all estates valued at $675,000 or more. This year, that figure was raised to $1 million. Some states have eliminated the death tax altogether.
Senate Minority Leader Eric Johnson of Savannah: “After reading the so-called audit of Senator Charles Walker’s dealings in Augusta, I am reminded of Arthur Andersen’s audit of Enron. It may have served somebody’s purpose, but it wasn’t the taxpayers! The audit failed to address the $110,000 going to his daughter’s law firm. It never addressed the fact that the $240,000 lease of Walker’s building is double the market rate (according to media accounts). The state auditor is a Barnes political appointee. Walker is the governor’s main man in Augusta. Therefore, the audit says the funds were expended properly but not necessarily legally. That’s bureaucratic speech for ‘we ain’t touching this with a 10-foot pole!'”
George Israel is the new CEO of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce. Some outsiders considered Former Secretary of State Lewis Massey the favorite, when he withdrew his bid. Said Massey, “We are in the middle stages of planning and building a Challenger Learning Center at SciTrek, and I want to continue to be a part of making that dream become a reality.” Some insiders believe Massey is considering returning to politics, possibly as a senatorial candidate in 2004 if Sen. Zell Miller does not seek re-election.
The National Rifle Association’s Political Victory Fund has officially endorsed Congressman Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate. The NRA advocates enforcement of existing gun laws to prosecute and punish criminals. The association has more than 4 million members across America.
If the Northern Arc reappears on the political screen next spring, look for the new plan to place the highway 40 to 50 miles north of its presently proposed location. Several ranking engineers say a transportation belt farther north would alleviate traffic more than the presently envisioned Cartersville-Canton-Lawrenceville connector.
“Now, maybe we’ll have some real competition,” observed Public Service Commissioner Lauren “Bubba” McDonald Jr., after the PSC approved in record time a retail gas marketing certificate for Southern Gas. The new company takes over NewPower’s 210,000 gas customers and other assets in a $60 million deal, instantly becoming the fourth largest gas retailer in the state with roughly 15 percent of the market. The new company is a cousin of Georgia Power, also a subsidiary of the Southern Company. McDonald, like most everybody, has been critical of how gas deregulation worked in practice. But he has also insisted that the intent of deregulation was always more competition, with the potential for lower customer prices and better services.
Enjoy hors d’oeuvres and beverages in a relaxed setting with other Chamber members once the work day ends. Hosted at a fellow member business starting at 5:30pm the Business After Hours is the perfect opportunity to meet, mingle and make new contacts. This is a member exclusive event. 21 & up
PCOM South Georgia’s leadership team is planning a ribbon-cutting ceremony which will take place on August 6, 2019 at 2 p.m. Georgia Governor Brian Kemp has confirmed that he will address attendees as the first four-year medical school in Southwest Georgia opens its doors. The ribbon-cutting ceremony will begin at 2 p.m. Refreshments and tours will follow the ceremony. A community open house will take place until 6 p.m
The faces of hunger may surprise you. Come learn more as Georgia Mountain Food Bank kicks off our fall activities at Business After Hours on August 8. Hosted at GMFB, and sponsored by Liberty Utilities, we will share our fall calendar including introducing the Quinlan Visual Arts Center’s newest exhibit, “Still Hungry in America,” opening August 16, which explores the faces of hunger over the past fifty years as captured by photographer Al Clayton and his daughter Jennie. Join us for food, music and fun and hear all we have going while networking with Chamber friends. gamountainfoodbank.org
Banks across the state have a broad impact on the communities they serve – from making loans to small businesses to supporting rural hospitals, which have been facing demographic, economic and industry challenges for years. Ameris Bank, headquartered in Moultrie, donated $1.65 million this year (on top of $800,000 in 2018) to support 16 rural […]
Followers of Georgia folk artist Howard Finster will be treated to an art exhibition in Northeast Georgia, beginning this weekend. Main Street Gallery in Clayton – one of the Southeast’s preeminent folk art galleries – is hosting “Finster Forward: Art by Howard Finster and the Finster Fest Artists He Inspires” through Aug. 21. A meet-the-artists […]
Atlanta’s MARTA is moving forward with transit expansions and transit oriented development (TOD), all designed to get more metro residents where they want to be. TODs – development on land around a transit station that MARTA owns and leases to a developer – are one of the newer tools in the MARTA toolbox. The idea […]