State Sen. Casey Cagle, a Republican from Chestnut Mountain in Hall County who is seeking the states number two office, attended a breakfast gathering Saturday in Fort Oglethorpe.
About 100 people attended the event, which was sponsored by five fellow Republicans state Sens. Jeff Mullis of Chickamauga and Don Thomas of Dalton and Reps. Jay Neal of LaFayette, Tom Dickson of Cohutta and Martin Scott of Rossville.
The lawmakers represent all or parts of Catoosa, Dade, Gordon, Murray, Walker and Whitfield counties.
Cagle was elected to the state Senate in 1994 and told his constituents at that time that he would impose on himself a 12-year term limit.
And Im holding to that, the senator told the crowd at Park Place Restaurant. I know that this is my calling and my time to be lieutenant governor.
Cagle, who announced his candidacy for the office a year ago, has raised $1.3 million for his campaign, which he said is not far behind Ralph Reed, his challenger in the Republican primary in July.
This job is too important to trust to someone who needs on-the-job training, Cagle said in reference to Reeds political inexperience. I know how to pass legislation and I know how to work a budget.
Cagle said he has the endorsement of 225 elected officials across the state.
Prior to the event, Sen. Cagle answered these other questions about his campaign.
If you are elected lieutenant governor, what would be different about the way you conduct business in the Senate chamber?
When youre the president of the Senate you dont cast a vote but certainly you are the conductor of the engine. Ill continue to focus on the Republican agenda and make sure the right issues that are important to Georgia families come up in legislation and pass in the Senate. Right now the lieutenant governor (Mark Taylor) is a Democrat but the majority is Republican, so we have taken much of his power away. I anticipate a change where much of those powers would be restored if a Republican becomes the lieutenant governor, and with our party also in the majority of the Senate the office would be elevated tremendously.
Well, your campaign platform itself includes plans to significantly transform the lieutenant governors office. Yes, exactly. One of the plans is to have a strong influence in the lieutenant governors office for economic development. We want to be the number one jobs recruiter for the state.
Youve proposed the creation of a state job czar and a community outreach coordinator to be part of the lieutenant governors staff. What would need to happen for you to implement this and what would be the benefits of having these two positions? That would be part of the budget for the lieutenant governors office that is currently being utilized, so we would just put a person to operate in a higher priority on those issues. As opposed to allowing the office just to be political, I view it as having a stronger influence on things that really make a difference.
The advantage to having this would be that for the first time theres the opportunity to have someone that local governments could work with and be a conduit to state government, particularly the legislature. Local governments need someone they can rely on to help them through the process, whether its an issue of, for example, community affairs or environmental protection. We want to provide that access to be an advocate for them.
Your Republican primary opponent Ralph Reed proposes putting the state budget back on a two-year cycle instead of annually, saying it would allow the state Senate and House to become more efficient. Hes also proposed the abolition the states supplemental budget, which he says is often laden with special interest and pork barrel projects. Do you agree? No, and as Mr. Reed has never served in the legislature hes unaware of the way the budget operates. The reality is that we need real reform to state spending, and the budget cycle has little to do with that.
Georgia is among just a few states that have the highest triple-A bond (credit) rating, and that is important to the success of the state. Bond rating agencies will tell you that the way the state is operated through the supplemental budget is viewed as a way to take care of rainy day issues that may arise throughout the year. They view that very positively.
We have operated under the supplemental budget for years. It takes care of emergency situations that arise, but the bulk of it is designated to fund mid-term adjustments for education. If you do away with it you potentially pass along a lot of expenditures to the local school boards which would result in higher property taxes. Thats not a responsible measure for state government.
With a new role thats part of the executive and legislative branches of state government, what would you have to offer Northwest Georgia? Well, Im a seventh-generation North Georgian, and we have not had a constitutional officer at the Capitol in a long time. Im a person who understands the issues that face North Georgia who has a record for delivering in a time of need. As lieutenant governor Ill be in a better position to make sure our issues are being addressed, from transportation needs to having more flexibility thats needed for improving education. There are some initiatives that the agricultural community needs assistance with, and Ill continue to be a strong supporter of them.
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