Republican Candidates Talk Tax Reform at Cobb Forum
Republican candidates the District 6 State Senate and District 11 Congressional races participated in a forum hosted by the Cobb County Republican Women's Club Tuesday.
Tax reform was the hot topic at Tuesday’s Cobb County Republican Women’s Forum for the candidates for the District 6 State Senate and District 11 Congressional races.
Tuesday’s forum was the first of three hosted by the Cobb County Republican Women’s Club. A three-person panel posed two questions to the candidates. Panelists included Joe Dendy, chairman of the Cobb County Republican Party; Joe Kirby, Marietta Daily Journal columnist; and Diane Webb, Cobb County State Court Clerk.
William Llop and Michael Opitz are both competing to represent Georgia's 11th Congressional District. When asked what two specific areas they’d target to improve the job market, both candidates said the answer lies with tax reform.
“We have the highest corporate tax rate in the world making our exports less competitive and that needs to change,” Opitz said. “I’ve long been a strong supporter of the fair tax and I will introduce the appropriate legislation and work in Congress to move that forward. That will make our exports far more competitive than they are now.”
Llop, who is a certified public accountant, said he supports changes to the tax code that benefit investors.
“The passive activity loss limitation rules are our biggest drawback in America,” he said. “We can take an investment—Sue can open up a restaurant. She needs an investor to assist in the bank loan. Sue gets to deduct $100,000 on her investment. The investor, who doesn’t work in the business, is not allowed to deduct their investment. The bank certainly is not able to.”
Tax reform wasn’t far from the State Senate candidates’ minds either. When asked how they proposed to offset the decreases in funding to local school districts because of drops in home values, Hunter Hill and Drew Ellenburg both proposed abolishing the state’s income tax.
“We’ve got to spur economic growth,” Hill said. “I think the number one thing is to reduce the size of government and allow entrepreneurs and businesses to grow. We want to see organic growth out of Georgia and the best way to do that in my opinion is to eliminate the income tax in Georgia.”
Ellenburg emphasized that the state’s income tax keeps Georgia from being competitive with neighboring states.
“We’re in a situation where we’re wedged in between two states that have a zero personal income tax,” he said. “For instance, Tennessee and Florida have zero personal income tax. Georgia has six percent. I just think we’re in an unequal playing field with government and limiting government. We’ve got to figure out a way to cut and be equal.”
Josh Belinfante, a former high school teacher, asserted that funding for schools will increase when home values increase, but agreed that Georgia will have to become more competitive first.
“We’ve got to make Georgia a competitive place to live,” he said. “For me, that means sunsetting regulations so that we have the most current and up to date in the country. It means reforming our tax code to make sure that we’re incentivizing small business and make sure they have a playing field that works for them.”
CCRW invited all the Republican candidates for both races, but incumbent Congressman Phil Gingrey was on official business and couldn’t attend.
The next CCRW candidate forum is Thursday, June 15 at 7 p.m. at the Cobb County Government Building at 100 Cherokee Street in Marietta. State House, State Court Judge and Superior Court Clerk candidates will participate in the forum.