Josh Goodman is a former staff writer for GOVERNING..E-mail: email@example.com
It's not at all clear who will win tomorrow's Republican primary for governor in Georgia. It might not even be clear tomorrow night, given the strong possibility of a runoff. But, whoever wins, there's a good chance that he or she will support a tax increase.
Yes, these are Republicans and yes I said tax increase. The context is that Georgia's Republican-controlled legislature approved a bill this year that allowed regions of the state to hold referendums on sales tax increases. Sonny Perdue, Georgia's Republican governor, signed the bill.
Potential future Republican governors aren't inclined to reverse that decision. From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
John Oxendine, the leading contender for the Republican nomination as governor, told the Metro Atlanta Chamber on Tuesday that he will likely vote in favor of raising the state sales tax to fund transportation projects, but he won't commit to using the governor's bully pulpit to encourage others to do the same.
You're talking about in 2012, another campaign of letting people decide if they're going to tax themselves," Oxendine, the state's insurance commissioner, said in response to a question from moderator Bill Nigut. "Right now I'm real busy going ahead and securing and wrapping up the nomination."
The other three candidates to appear at Tuesday's forum, Nathan Deal, Karen Handel and Eric Johnson, all said they would actively support the regional transportation funding plan and would encourage voters to do the same.
Oxendine, it's worth noting, was the "leading contender" when that article was written, but since has sagged in the polls. And even he sounds pretty close to a yes on supporting the tax increase for the Atlanta region. By the way, Roy Barnes, the leading Democratic candidate, supports the Atlanta referendum too.
Of course, the Republican candidates are all still calling for other tax cuts and casting themselves as small-government conservatives. But, the Georgia situation is a good reminder that the politics of tax increases are more complicated than they appear on the surface.
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