Gubernatorial Hopefuls Match-up with Atlanta Press Club

| October 20, 2014
Statesboro Herald Photo

Statesboro Herald Photo

Eric Baker, Valdosta Today:

ATLANTA — Georgia’s three gubernatorial candidates faced off in a debate hosted by GPB at 7 p.m. Sunday. This was the first meeting of Republican Governor Nathan Deal, Democratic candidate Senator Jason Carter and Libertarian businessman Andrew Hunt since their debate at the Georgia National Fair last month.

The economy and education dominated the questions although the candidates answered questions on health care reform, medical marijuana and more.

Kicking off the event was a question to Deal about the executive order he issued earlier in the day creating an Ebola response team. “We are taking this threat seriously and this team will give us ‘full engagement’ to meet this issue head-on,” Deal said.

At times it seemed that the Atlanta Press Club, who sponsored the event on GPB, didn’t seem to understand its own ground rules. When the opportunity came for the candidates to question each other, Hunt was told to direct his question to Carter. “I think I get to ask one to whomever I want,” Hunt corrected the moderator. He was then told that was correct and he directed a question to Deal.

Hunt sought to put Deal on the defensive about the state’s economy, citing the higher-than-national average unemployment rate. Deal, telling Hunt that he rejected Hunt’s factual premise, countered with facts and figures showing a declining unemployment rate, as evidenced by the recently released September numbers, and said that the real focus “ought to be on the jobs that we have created, one of the highest in our region.” Deal also pointed out that household income in Georgia has grown since he took office as has funding for education.

“Now what I have done in my four budgets is to appropriate a great percentage of general state revenue for K-12 education than any Governor since Carl Sanders was Governor back in the early 60’s. That is in 50 years. And this year the largest, single appropriation, as our economy was rebounding, was in this year’s budget, some 535 million additional dollars,” Deal said.

Deal and Carter sparred over this year’s state education budget, which Carter did not vote for, only one of 5 in the state senate who failed to support it. Carter justified his position since the bill didn’t “include enough for education.”
Carter sidestepped a question about whether or not he remained in favor of “means testing” recipients for HOPE Scholarship awards, a position he’d previously supported.

When Deal asked Carter how Georgians could have confidence in his ability to lead since Carter never held a leadership position within the Dekalb delegation or the Democratic caucus in the state senate and that he had never passed a bill, Carter responded that he had co-sponsored 21 bills. “And you know that Governor because you signed some of them into law.”

The candidates offered different views on expanding Medicaid in the state. Carter would favor an expansion to get $36 billion from the federal government and allow more subsidized coverage.
Deal took a longer view and said expanding Medicaid in the state would be too costly.

“Georgia taxpayers spend $2,300 a year in supporting Medicaid on a state and federal level,” Deal said. “If we expand it, it’s going to cost $2.5 billion over the next ten years. I just simply don’t think we can afford to do that.” Deal pointed out that the state had to pay $351.5 million in this year’s budget just to comply with regulations under the Affordable Care Act.

“That’s $351 million we could have put into things like education, because we already had our people insured,” Deal said.

Turning to the recent flap involving UGA running back Todd Gurley, the candidates answered a question about whether to criminalize behavior that violates NCAA rules.

“Maybe we’re doing too many regulations in here,” Hunt said. “We should allow a little bit of money to come to these impoverished players who are suffering so much under the current ways.”

“We ought to enforce the laws presently on the books. But more importantly than anything else, we need to see some fairness in the NCAA,” Deal said. “These regulations ought to be reviewed with an eye toward fairness. We’re seeing other stadiums across the country playing individuals who may have done the very same thing one of our players is alleged to have done. It is a serious problem.”

But Deal said because those decisions are made by the private sector, “This is something I think we have to be very cautious about legislating on.”

Carter favors legislation that would increase regulations and expand the criminal code. “I think the folks that are out there preying on these athletes and making money off of them should be punished,” Carter said.


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1 Comment on "Gubernatorial Hopefuls Match-up with Atlanta Press Club"

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  1. Papi says:

    We don’t need a liberal peanut vendor heading the State of Georgia!!!