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Senate hopefuls talk taxes, economy
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Two Republicans, former state Rep. Buddy Carter (District 159) and Dr. Billy Hair, a former Chatham County Commission chairman, are competing for the District 1 State Senate seat.
The contest will be decided in a special election on Tuesday, Nov. 3, that involves most of Liberty County.
The district’s senate seat was vacated in September when former Sen. Eric Johnson resigned to join Georgia’s gubernatorial race.
In recent interviews, both Carter and Hair discussed their stances on taxes and the economy.

Buddy Carter

Q: Explain the Carter-Burns bill in Effingham County. How does it work? A similar bill that affects Liberty County is called Kemp-DeLoach-Williams, after lawmakers who represented the county when it was enacted.
A: “We’ve been the victim of back door tax increases,” Carter said. “Property values keep going up. They’re not held in check. The bill states property values cannot go up more than three percent per year or more than the cost of inflation, whichever is less.”
Carter also voted in favor of freezing ad valorem taxes for the next three years during the 2009 legislative session.
Q: If you had to cut services, which would you cut? Which would you protect?
A: “We want to protect education,” he said. “I’ve been saying education is 53 percent of our budget with the cuts. I want to apologize for that. With the cuts, education is actually 56 percent of our (state) budget.”
Q: What measures would you take to improve Georgia’s economy? To create jobs?
A: “Job creation is the key,” Carter said.” Last month our jobless rate was at 10.1 percent. September was the 23rd month in a row that Georgia’s jobless rate has been higher than the national average. One out of 10 Georgians are looking for jobs right now. Our challenge and responsibility is to create those jobs. Look at Mitsubishi — that’s a stimulus right there. Those are good jobs, too. Look at EFACEC (a Portuguese company that makes electrical transformers) in Effingham County. Those are high paying jobs. That’s the challenge for us; to continue to attract those kinds of jobs. The role of government is to make a climate conducive to companies to want to come to our state. Right now the economy is our major focus.”

Dr. Billy Hair

Q: How would you eliminate ad valorem taxes and what type of tax system would replace property taxes?
A: “Ad valorem taxes are an additional tax created by those in office who refuse to cut budgets or face angry voters by raising other taxes to support unnecessary things,” he said. “It is an additional tax that elected officials don’t have to vote on so it is hidden from the voters and they only get mad once a year on their birthday.
“All expenses funded by ad valorem taxes should be included in one budget and funded by the normal revenue sources,” Hair said.” This would require elected officials to face the citizens and voters for all taxes inflicted on our citizens. This would cause a new attitude among elected officials and would hold them accountable for all costs of government.”
Q: What measures would you take to improve Georgia’s economy? To create jobs?
A: “We need to be focusing on things that create jobs,” Hair said. “We should have an aggressive industry recruitment program that offers effective tax credits tied directly to job creation.
“Also, we should be spending additional money on travel and tourism. We also need to be spending more on training and retraining our workers giving industry an additional reason to choose Georgia over other states when locating or relocating their operations. This is another area where we need to be spending additional money even in hard times.”

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