It used to think of itself as the New York or San Francisco of the South. Now it is at risk of becoming Hoboken or Oakland.
In fact, most of Georgia is now fried to a crisp when it comes to attracting big-time new business, particularly of the sort involving manufacturing and transportation and comm-uting to company skyscraper headquarters. The next few years are going to be an absolutely awful time to be in the economic-development business for most of the state ... including Greater Rome.
That’s why, in Greater Rome and elsewhere, reaction to the defeat in the places where it counted most of the so-called TSPLOST was greeted by pessimism and negativity by most community leaders. This is warranted. Given these are not exactly bright times on the economic scene it is not cheering to know the outlook has now become dark as well.
Those whose job it is to worry about such matters are looking at the money bottom line, however. The one to really have to worry about is the psychological one.
Georgia’s growth surge pretty much started when the state’s voters amazed the nation — even the world, as witness who came here — by the creative, progressive step of creating a lottery to pretty much fund a free college education for all. A lot of companies recognized what such a perk they didn’t have to pay for would mean to their employees … and even executives, for that matter.
NOW, WITH those same scholarships being cut even as tuition goes up due to the state chopping higher education funding, the state’s voters have just shown themselves to not be progressive at all, or interested in helping business, by improving the one thing that most enterprises and their employees need the most: being able to get around.
Between these two aspects, Georgians have just given the major job creators good reason to stay away … perhaps even caused some already present to start looking for friendlier places to be.
And while no growth or slow growth is usually described in terms of job creation it also happens to translate into the only thing that governments care about: revenues, state and local. No new revenues from growth, the more added taxes will be necessary to just keep treading water.
As many “no more taxes” folks plainly don’t understand, that chant does not mean taxes won’t go higher — a lot higher. No voter/referendum permission is required, for example, to double the state income tax, triple the fuel tax, push the millage rate to the maximum allowed. Heck, maybe do all of them.
Or get inventive, such as the state raising and grabbing off the “title fees” on all car purchases, new and used, as it just did. Wait until that one kicks in with another $2,000 or so tacked onto the purchase price … and monthly pay-ments for most folks. Not a tax … just a fee.
MOST STATE voters actually just opposed their last, best chance to bolster major job creation of the factory/major company headquarters type and keep taxes under control ... and to promote the much-discussed reform of the entire state tax structure. That’s simply not possible when the lack of decent transportation puts not only new strains on existing revenues but threatens to cut off growth/expansion.
Frankly, on the individual level, Americans are not quite as stupid as politicians seem to think they are when mass-marketing some political idea. Nor as stupid as the political/business supporters of this were in how they spent millions on advocating it while foes spent almost nothing.
Proponents should have stressed the horrors and unknowns of what happens next that, frankly, are far more scary and negative than a penny of added sales tax.
Next: Vidalia to get the highways that Greater Rome will not.