In the lead up to the May 22 primary elections, “Morning Edition” will feature conversations with the major party candidates for governor of Georgia. Republican Hunter Hill joined Denis O’Hayer on April 13.
Hill is a former state senator and was elected to represent a district in Fulton and Cobb counties in 2012. He resigned to run for governor last year and currently heads a leadership development company.
Listen to the broadcast interview above or the full-length below.
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On what he’d cut to reduce state spending
Things that are core competencies of government — public safety, transportation and education — these are high return activities. We need to invest in these things, but we spend billions of dollars in areas where the government is not equipped at delivering results: Medicaid welfare, food stamps. I believe that if we want to truly affect change in people’s lives, we need to empower ministries and nonprofits and make sure that people understand that there is brokenness in and around us, and we have to come together to lift these peoples out of their broken situation, but the government is not delivering results.
On whether nonprofits are prepared to handle that kind of work
Not today. The goal is to say, ‘If we want to start helping people, let’s empower more folks to be involved in this process.’ Over time, I believe we can spend less money in the process and deliver greater results, because we’re partnering with ministries, nonprofits, and private citizens.
On Medicaid expansion
We’ve got to back up and say, ‘Is Medicaid delivering results for the people that were already serving prior to making the decision that we should expand it?’ And I would say that we’re not doing enough to help increase health outcomes for the least among us with the current Medicaid program. We can’t continue to expand and say that everybody should get 100 percent of the services. I think we need to look at what is going to be offered to people that are on a program where they’re not paying in. We don’t want to incentivize people to not get a job and to not expand their life and move up to the next level.
On how he’d structure the state tax system after eliminating the state income tax
I want to do it mostly like Tennessee, where they have a broad-based consumption tax, so that we can leverage our wonderful visitors to our state. And you’re allowed, by taxing more people, to do so at lower rates and allow people to keep more of their hard-earned money.
On the stability of revenues from sales taxes
We should not increase government spending just because times are good. We need to prepare that there might be some fluctuations as economies rise and fall. But the income tax did the same thing. When we hit the downturn, we had to make drastic cuts to the budget.
On how the state could invest more in transportation projects
If we prioritize transportation as I intend to do, then we’re gonna need to make other areas. Bottom line is we need to have the dedication and the commitment to begin the process of making investments in our infrastructure that have lagged over time.
On whether he’d continue full funding for the QBE education funding formula while it’s being reworked
I’m not interested in putting new money on the table for the same old failed solutions of the past. We can’t keep going with government-centric solutions. I like the notion of having competition. When you look at private education, for example, you see some of the most robust markets of education and results in the marketplace right here in Atlanta. But that is only available to the top 1 percent. Were we to expand opportunities for other families that don’t have the resources to send their kids to private school and give them that chance, I believe that we elevate all boats in education.
On whether that would divert money from public education
We have to look at making meaningful reforms that are going to deliver results. Just fixing schools through changing laws doesn’t work. There’s cultural issues at play here. The culture of public education needs to be elevated by forcing administrators and teachers and everyone to look in the mirror and say: “What can we be doing better?”
On his vote for a bill that would have eased restrictions on eminent domain
Any issue of eminent domain is an issue of creating projects for a public need. And you’re not delegating it to the private entity unless there’s going to be a net benefit to the taxpayers.
On which efforts of Gov. Nathan Deal’s he’d continue and end
One of the things [Deal’s] done very well is getting us out of this recession and on a very solid financial footing allowing for the next governor to make some very transformational changes. I also am proud of the work that we’ve done on criminal justice reform. I want to eliminate the Georgia state income tax, and I want to do budget reform in a way that’s going to create a more limited and focused government that focuses on the priorities and funds them at the appropriate level, so we can deliver results.