Democratic gubernatorial candidate Roy Barnes pushed funding for education and infrastructure and a capital gains tax holiday during a Tuesday stop in Moultrie.
Barnes, who is seeking a second term after losing as the incumbent in 2002 to Gov. Sonny Perdue, spoke to a group of Rotary and Kiwanis members during a campaign swing through the area.
Barnes said the first step in growing jobs in the state is producing a well-educated and trained work force. In this, the state seems to be going in the opposite direction, he said, with squeezed public school systems planning 162 instructional days next year instead of the traditional 180.
“We expect this state to compete with those students all over the world for the good jobs,” he said. “We have to make sure, particularly, that our skill levels are (improved). It is the key to be able to attract and keep industries here.”
On the capital gains tax, Barnes advocated giving a tax break on the state’s 6 percent rate to investors who put the proceeds of sales into ventures that would create jobs.
Those would include buying stock in a commercial bank, investing in a Georgia-owned company or creating a new business in the state, and buying real estate.
“It would encourage the investment, which would create jobs immediately,” Barnes said.
The former governor also said he wants the state to stop doing business with companies that ship jobs to other countries. Similarly, he wants Georgia to contract with state-owned firms when there are companies available to provide those services and bids are competitive with out-of-state businesses.
Barns also touted his use of tobacco settlement money that benefited rural Georgia, particularly the part of the state below Macon. A cottonseed venture in the area that was to be funded through that OneGeorgia Authority fund was canceled after he lost the election.
Georgia agriculture also could benefit from the use of wood waste and fiber for the production of electricity, Barnes said. The state purchases $2.3 billion in coal, including $97 million from foreign countries, each year, and Barnes would like biofuels to take the place of 10 percent of that amount.
That would include wood, switchgrass and other green energy, he said.
“I would propose that every coal-fired plant be able to burn biomass,” he said. “It creates a market. The estimate is it also creates jobs. Several states have done that. (But) you have to take on the utilities to be able to do that.”
John Clark, former CEO of Southwest Georgia Bank in Moultrie, said afterward that he liked what he heard Tuesday.
“I think he’s a class guy,” Clark said. “He’s a breath of fresh air as far as I’m concerned. I’d say Roy is not a Washington Democrat, he’s a Georgia and a Democrat and there’s a world of difference.”