The exit door is so close that he can see the light from around its edges, but Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue finally has done something I agree with.
Most people who consider themselves conservative - or who, at least, pander to conservative causes so people will think they're conservative - probably won't agree with Perdue. But he made the right move just the same.
This past week, as the deadline neared for approving or vetoing bills passed in this past session of the Legislature, Perdue fired off a veto of House Bill 1023, the "JOBS Act" that was touted to boost the economy with a handful of employer tax breaks.
Prior to this point, Perdue has never met a special-interest tax break that he didn't love. So vetoing this bill was a groundbreaking move for him.
But why do I think it was a good decision? Other than the fact that I oppose special-interest tax breaks in preference of general lower taxes for everyone, Perdue said exactly the right thing with his veto: Rather than adding yet another goody to Georgia's tax code, he'd like to give the newly created tax-code commission a chance to do its job.
He happens to be the chairman of that commission, so naturally he'd want the decks cleared for it. But still: This commission is supposed to provide a package that overhauls the state's tax system, with the entire batch of changes considered by an up-or-down vote by lawmakers.
Under those circumstances it makes no sense for Perdue to sign a bill providing a new tax break that then, based on the commission's recommendations, could be revoked in six months.
But this wasn't the only pet conservative bill that Perdue vetoed this past week. He also rejected Senate Bill 1, which would have forced zero-based budgets on the state.
As I pointed out in a column last Sunday, zero-based budgeting in its purest form is the precise opposite of the efficiency that pandering politicians would like to claim.
By forcing agencies to recast their budgets from scratch, the concept turns the budget process into a drawn-out nightmare of bureaucratic detail - which is why not a single one of the few lawmakers who have private businesses actually use zero-based budgeting themselves. It's one of those things that sounds nifty in campaign commercials, but is absurdly impractical in real life.
And because it does seem to sound so good in campaigns, Georgia's gubernatorial candidates fell all over themselves firing out press releases to either urge Perdue to sign the measure or, after his veto, to pledge that they by golly would have signed the bill if they were in office.
I had a nice debate on the topic with a spokesman for one of those campaigns. Rather than pick on him specifically for it, though, I'll just point out that he clearly didn't like getting backed into a corner and having to admit that a private business affiliated with his boss doesn't use zero-based budgeting.
It reminds me of the carpetbagger in The Outlaw Josey Wales, who was attempting to sell his cure-all elixer to the old Indian. If the stuff is so great, the Indian said, "you drink it."
Maybe it's just a result of getting old and jaded in the political game, but this year particularly I've really gotten tired of politicians trying to get elected merely by regurgitating the same old sound bites that they think worked for them and other cookie-cutter candidates in the past.
They're going to have to do more than that to get my vote, and I hope they'll have to do more than that to get your support, too.
A final note
Best of luck to Karen Ribble, the Columbia County school system's community relations coordinator.
Karen's last day was Friday. She left for a position with CallingPost Communications, the nationwide business founded here in Evans.
It's a good fit for her, and good timing on her part. With all the school system budget cuts, her job was on the block - and we understand the position won't be filled.
That's called getting out while the getting's good.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail email@example.com. Follow at twitter.com/barrypaschal.)
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