Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal was inaugurated to lead a state mired in hard times. The hopes of almost 10 million Georgians for better things are now his burden, his responsibility and his opportunity. There could hardly be a better way to begin a new era, or to dispel the ethics cloud that hung over his head as a candidate, than for this governor to take the lead in real ethics and accountability reform in state government. The token gestures to come from the Capitol of late have been feeble and suggest that Republican rule has so far been no improvement over generations of party rule by Democrats.
This Republican governor has the opportunity to change that. He could start by taking a hard look at the process by which the commission charged with rewriting Georgia’s tax policies came up with the package the General Assembly will now consider. If politically and economically powerful interests had input and access to that process, while those most affected — the millions of Georgians who, directly or indirectly, will pay most of the taxes — did not, then it would come as little surprise if this version of tax “reform” should benefit the former at the expense of the latter.
Probably the most important economic challenge in this budget crisis is the adequate funding of education. Deal already warned of deeper school budget cuts to come; now he needs to take the lead in figuring out how Georgia can balance its budget without selling out its future. When the bill for ignorance comes due, it invariably makes the price of education look like a bargain.
We endorsed this governor as a candidate, and wish him luck now as Georgia’s chief executive. It’s in the interest of all Georgians, regardless of whether they voted for him, that Nathan Deal be not just a good governor but a great one.