Political Notes — State saves some money with a bond refi

[private]Georgia will save about $152 million by taking advantage of its AAA rating to refinance some outstanding bonds.

The Georgia State Financing and Investment Commission approved the sale of $889.6 million in bonds at its meeting Thursday, with the proceeds used to refund outstanding debt and lower debt service payments.

“We will be able to use these savings to help fund other priority services for our citizens,” said Gov. Nathan said Deal. “I am proud that our fiscal responsibility can translate into a better use of taxpayer resources.”

The bonds are being sold to refund more than $1.02 billion of bonds that originally were issued in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2011.

That’s some tax bill

State Rep. Joyce Chandler (R-Grayson) and her husband are facing a tax bill of more than half a million dollars from the IRS, according to a report by Jim Walls in Atlanta Unfiltered:

The IRS in July filed a lien for $519,000 including interest and penalties, just the latest development in a decade-long attempt to collect taxes from the legislator and her husband, Martin.

“It was all my deal. She had nothing to do with it,” Martin Chandler said in a recent telephone interview.

The agency has also filed a separate $6,500 lien against Joyce Chandler alone for tax year 2013.

Georgia voters amended the Georgia Constitution in 2002 to bar tax defaulters from holding elected office. The ban, which has never been enforced, does not apply if the debtor is making payments to reduce the debt under a payment plan.

Chandler, a retired educator, is embroiled in a tough reelection battle in her Gwinnett County district with Democratic challenger Donna McLeod.

She has received nearly $80,000 in campaign contributions in recent weeks from Republican legislative colleagues, along with $5,200 from U.S. Rep. Tom Price, according to campaign disclosure records.

More shots fired over the JQC

Regardless of how the vote turns out on the constitutional amendment to dissolve the Judicial Qualifications Commission, one thing is clear:  you’d better not ever invite House Speaker David Ralston and Sen. Josh McKoon (R-Columbus) to the same Christmas party.

McKoon, a critic of the proposed amendment, had some harsh words to say about Ralston’s role in getting the amendment approved during a panel discussion hosted by the Atlanta chapter of the American Constitution Society.

As recounted by Robin McDonald in the Daily Report:

The day before the Georgia General Assembly ended its 2016 term, House Speaker David Ralston informed the Senate that the House would take no further action on any pending Senate bill until the Senate passed legislation that, if approved by the voters next month, would give the legislature controlling authority over the state’s independent judicial watchdog agency.

The move, said Sen. Josh McKoon, R-Columbus, in a panel discussion Tuesday night, was prompted by what he claims is Ralston’s “personal animus against the State Bar of Georgia” over a bar complaint that has been pending for four years against the speaker. Last year, Ralston, a Republican from Blue Ridge, said he would accept a public reprimand, but bar lawyers rejected the request. . . .

McCoon said the process was “a pretty sure sign something is wrong with the legislation.” He added, “I think this is totally motivated by a grievance against the state bar.” Ralston spokesman Kaleb McMichen said Wednesday in response to questions from the Daily Report: “The JQC amendment is simply a question of whether Georgians want a more accountable judicial ethics agency. If some want to peddle conspiracy theories to distract from substantive policy discussions, that is their choice.”

This is obviously political animosity that isn’t going to fade away for a while, if ever.

Early voting indicators

Early voting is brisk in Cobb County, not to mention Fulton County, as the Nov. 8 general election gets nearer.

According to Ricky Leroux in the Marietta Daily Journal:

Through two days of a three-week early voting period, more than 7,000 Cobb voters have cast their ballots — it took five days to reach the same mark in 2012.

On Monday, 3,685 people voted in person at the two polling places open for early voting in Cobb, according to the Cobb Board of Elections. Tuesday saw another 3,392 people cast a ballot, putting the total number of votes cast early in person at 7,077.

For comparison, 2,797 people voted through two days of early voting ahead of the 2012 general election, and after five days of early voting, the total number of votes totaled just 7,007.

Cobb’s early turnout numbers surpass the totals seen in many nearby counties over the first two days of early voting, including Gwinnett (2,985), Paulding (3,149) and Cherokee (2,564).

However, Fulton County, which has about 150,000 more registered voters than Cobb and had 24 polling places open compared to Cobb’s two, saw a total of 28,147 people cast ballots on Monday and Tuesday, nearly four times Cobb’s tally.

Rogers moves on

After Rep. Carl Rogers (R-Gainesville) decided not to run for a twelfth term in the Georgia House, he snared a high-paying job with the Technical College System.

Rogers, who was an insurance agent, is now the vice president of economic development at Lanier Technical College in Hall County.  He actually resigned early from the Legislature in a June 30 letter to Gov. Nathan Deal so that he could take the state job.

“As a lifelong resident of Northeast Georgia, a longtime businessman and a retired public servant, Carl brings a unique perspective toward economic development, as well as a vast network of contacts for the college,” Lanier Tech President Ray Perren told the Gainesville Times.

The Technical College System said Rogers’ salary will be $99,000 a year. Persons holding similar positions at other technical colleges, however, are being paid $107,000 a year or more.

Matt Trice, the economic development vice president at Albany Tech, was paid $107,400 in fiscal year 2015, while Rex Bishop was paid $107,553 at Chattahoochee Tech, and David McCulloch was paid $134,563 at Gwinnett Tech.

© 2016 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: Carl Rogers , David Ralston , early voting , Josh McKoon , JQC , Lanier Tech , Nathan Deal , state bonds refinancing