Thursday, January 29, 2009

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Editor's note: Hello, Georgia. Have you done your daily dose of sinning? If so, those guilty pleasures are likely to come back and slap you – in the pocketbook. Actually, as veteran political reporter Kris Jensen tells us in his report for the Georgia Online News Service, if the state would get serious about taxing the seven deadly sins, it could do a lot to ease the budget crunch.

Meanwhile, GONSO business writer Jeanne Bonner says Georgia's businesses are lining up at the Gold Dome to be heard. At the top of the business agenda are predictable concerns over crises such as transportation and water – but other groups, such as the beleaguered homebuilders, are also clamoring for relief.

Finally, Pat Willis, executive director of Voices for Georgia's Children, has a message for the Legislature: Don't forget the kids.

Do you like what you're seeing from the Georgia Online News Service? Send us your comments, rants and story ideas. Do you need something covered in your community? We're listening, so give us a call at 800-891-3459 or write me at john.sugg@georgiaonlinenews.org.

John F. Sugg, Executive Editor


Today's GONSO

A sure(hell)-fire way to raise state funds? Tax all 7 Deadly Sins

by K. Patrick Jensen
COMMENTARY/HUMOR

The "wages of sin" don't pay too badly in Georgia, where tobacco, liquor and the lottery contribute millions of dollars to fund state operations in bad and good economic times.

Faced with a $2 billion-ish budget shortfall, legislators are thinking of new ways to raise public revenues from private actions. And Georgia certainly isn't alone. Cash-strapped legislatures nationwide are looking at "sin taxes" for some revenue, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article.

Full Story

Transportation top concern for business community

by Jeanne Bonner
Solving the state's transportation woes is business leaders' top priority for the 2009 legislative session of the Georgia General Assembly that reconvened this week.

Business officials say the problem goes beyond congestion in metro Atlanta, which affects the coastal cargo ports and everything in between. The lack of a comprehensive transportation solution is undermining efforts to lure companies to Georgia, they say, and hampering the ability of existing firms to move goods around the state and attract employees.

But transportation is one of the few large issues affecting business expected to advance this session. The state's dire financial straits should prevent more ambitious legislation. Both Democrats and Republicans in the Georgia Senate proposed transportation bills this week that would hinge on a sales tax to fund road, bridge and transit projects.

Full Story

Lesson for legislators: Don't forget the children

by Pat Willis
After a year of rising unemployment, a housing market crash, credit crisis and diminishing tax revenue, it's hard to imagine that anyone was sad to see 2008 go.

Georgia, like other states, begins a new year with budget woes that could mean deep cuts in vital programs and services. There's no way around it. But it's important in these tough times to maintain a solid foundation for future growth when the economy improves.

Full Story

Tomorrow's Budget
The high price of cheap gasoline
by Tex Pitfield
Plan for best use of Chattahoochee’s water is criticized
by Maggie Lee
State parks have "great value" – but not to budget writers
by Wendy Parker

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