Recent editorials from Georgia newspapers:
Morning News, Savannah, Georgia, on Mitt Romney running for president:
Anyone who thinks the Republican Party lacks ideas and vision hasn't been paying attention to the list of prospective presidential candidates for the 2016 elections.
That field keeps growing. And on Monday, a familiar name was added: Mitt Romney.
The Washington Post reported that Romney, the GOP nominee who lost to President Obama in 2012, is making serious moves to explore another possible run for the White House. He apparently called former aides, donors and other supporters over the weekend, and he was encouraged.
This suggests that Romney's message to a group of donors in New York last Friday that he was interested in running wasn't a mere trial balloon or that his ego was doing the talking. Instead, he's apparently got the hots for run No. 3.
For the GOP, this means their presidential choices could resemble a well-stocked smorgasbord. Among those reportedly angling for the nomination include former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. Even Texas Gov. Rick Perry can't be counted out.
This range of Republicans covers much of the U.S. political spectrum — from moderate to far right to Libertarian.
While some strategists may squirm at the thought of Republican candidates beating themselves to a pulp during the primaries, there's much to like about giving Republican voters a real choice. It also guarantees a robust debate on issues that matter.
To date, that beats anything the Democratic Party may be offering — yet another attempted anointment of Hillary Clinton.
Some may try to tag Romney as a loser. But that's not always a liability among Republicans, as it is among Democrats. Ronald Reagan ran multiple times before winning. So did Richard Nixon.
Romney is no Tricky Dick. But he will have to do a better job of promoting his platform than he did in 2012, should he decide to run. And we hope he does. His vision and ideas remain just as valid as ever. So would a Romney candidacy.
The Times, Gainesville, Georgia, on Gov. Nathan Deal's second term:
Second terms can be a dicey thing for executive officeholders. Though much desired — when was the last time we recall a president or governor who didn't seek one? — They often slip into the dreaded "lame duck" limbo as heads start turning toward who's next in line.
Gov. Nathan Deal, a favorite son of Hall County, will get his chance to make a second term relevant when he again takes the oath of office at the state Capitol in Atlanta.
Deal enters the final term of his political career with more of a breeze at his back than the headwinds he faced in 2011. He entered office following a governor who couldn't unite his own party, and facing an economy dragged down by the Great Recession.
Always the pragmatist, Deal set to work crafting an agenda that wasn't overly innovative or ambitious but a fit for the times. He first got warring factions in the General Assembly to stop acting like children fighting over the playground swings and work together. The squabbling brats who had tried to kneecap Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle in the Senate and turned the House into the former speaker's own little fiefdom were sent into exile in favor of calmer adults.
That was particularly important when it came to paring the state budget to match dwindling revenues. Such decisions always are unpopular, and give election challengers plenty of ammo. Everyone wants to spend more and cut less, though someone eventually gets elected and has to make tough decisions when the money isn't there and that magic golden money mint from fantasyland is still on order.
Georgia voters, though, seemed to realize unpopular choices are what true leaders have to make, and chose to give Deal four more years. Now a rebounding economy gives him a chance to address some key concerns that couldn't be addressed when state coffers were bare, three in particular: transportation, education and health care.
Each of these topics is tied not only to the state's quality of life but their ability to grow the economy and create jobs. But each also offers a delicate balancing act between finding the money to pay for them while not scuttling jobs or growth in the process.
We've discussed how money must be found to repair Georgia's crumbling roads and bridges and ease metro gridlock. Without that, workers can't get to their jobs on time and industries will locate elsewhere. Gimmicks like Atlanta's streetcars won't solve this problem. Mass transit has its place, but like it or not, most people drive cars, and cars need good roads.
Transportation funding has largely dried up, many blaming Georgia's low sales tax on gasoline. Raising that tax is a tempting option while pump prices are so low. But there's no guarantee they'll stay there, and higher taxes on top of rising prices would slow the flow of goods, services and workers and undermine business growth.
The legislative committee working on solutions is floating different ideas to raise revenue, from taxes to user fees, with some combination likely. Whatever they settle on, the money targeted for transportation should go only to those needs and not back into the general fund to be spent on other concerns.
Money already has been put back into education after years of cuts when revenue slumped. That has restored teacher pay and calendar cuts public schools had to endure during the recession. That's a good start. Now the state needs to get a handle on the cost of higher education so qualified high school graduates have a chance to attend college or technical school without incurring a lifetime of debt. The HOPE programs are vital to this and should be supported, yet costs also must be controlled to keep from depleting its funding.
Georgia also must embrace classroom innovation with charter schools and new methods of teaching and testing to measure success. When education professionals join politicians in the decision-making process, the state's education rankings have a better chance of improving.