State Policy Agenda
Each year, the Augusta Metro Chamber develops a State of Georgia Legislative Agenda that includes both proactive statements and responsive positions on matters affecting our state and the Greater Augusta region.
2023 State Policy Statements
Like many states across the country, Georgia currently faces a shortage of housing opportunity and affordability. This issue significantly impacts Georgia’s ability to attract and retain population as well its ability to continue to build a superior labor force and economic opportunity for all Georgians. There is an urgent need for state and local policy makers to study the impacts of state and local regulatory costs that substantially increase the cost of housing including zoning, land use and impact fees and modernize incentives and policies that create a diverse inventory of housing stock.
Technology Infrastructure - As the State’s technology related economic sector continues to grow, it is important that Georgia keeps pace with other states in the attraction of companies requiring sophisticated infrastructure, plentiful fiber connectivity, competitive energy costs and a highly skilled workforce. We support the adoption of tax credits and incentives focused on the attraction of businesses and talent in the technology and cyber security sectors.
Development Authorities - Local Development Authorities across Georgia and their missions to retain and influence job growth and business expansion are critical entities if Georgia is to continue its designation as the number one state with which to do business. We encourage state policy makers to consider that efforts to regulate and provide for accountability for the powers local development authorities hold should be largely entrusted to the local communities they serve.
Job Tax Credits - Georgia’s system of incentivizing growth through a tiered system maximizes equitable opportunity for communities across the state. It is important however, to ensure the system is continuously evaluated for factors that accurately reflect changing labor force characteristics and demographics.
Ft. Gordon Cyber Center of Excellence - Military installations across Georgia represent significant employment and economic impact. In the Greater Augusta Region, Ft. Gordon is the largest single employ er and plays an important role in our nation’s defense, particular in the areas of communications training, cyber security and intelligence. It is important that Georgia continue to advocate for the strength of its military locations and their respective missions and to advocate for expanded roles in the nation’s defense. In particular, the need to ensure Ft. Gordon is supported by a transportation network proportionate to its ever-increasing employment levels is a high priority including the development of the new proposed interchange at I20/Lewisville Road.
Nathan Deal Campus for Innovation - Augusta is quickly becoming a center of gravity for cyber technology and training thanks to the significant investments by the State of Georgia into the Georgia Cyber Center Hull-McKnight Building and the Shaffer-MacCartney Building on the Nathan Deal Campus for Innovation. These facilities represent unique assets for our state by being the largest single investment by any state into the growing cyber sector as well as offering a synergistic mix of academia, public sector and private sector interests in advancing cyber knowledge and innovation. Our business community is committed to ensuring this facility and its partners are successful.
Economic Recovery – The Augusta Region’s business community has shown great resilience in recovering from the pandemic. Much needed legislation to protect businesses from Covid-19 related claims and lawsuits has been instrumental in helping business stay focused on regaining their full strength. At such times, it is important that significant changes in regulatory matters or new taxes be discussions for future times when the economy has regained its full stride.
State income tax policy is an important aspect of Georgia’s ability to attract and retain population and ensure Georgia’s continued economic growth. While efforts to modernize revenues to ensure Georgia remains fiscally sound are important, actions that would shift tax burdens from the state to local communities or change tax policy based on consumption must be studied. Additionally, legislation that grants the implementation of new local taxes must be studied to ensure there is sufficient justification to support the expansion of local spending.
Daylight Savings Time:
As a border city, Augusta shares significant economic activity with S. Carolina. On any average day, 15,000 people migrate back and forth and Augusta is fortunate to have consistent economic opportunity and standards throughout the 2-state region. Efforts to adopt Georgia out of daylight savings time and disrupt well established time zones between contiguous states is opposed.
Education and Workforce Development:
Military Retirement Income Tax Exemption – The taxation of military retirement benefits puts Georgia at a competitive disadvantage, particularly with adjacent states such as Alabama and Florida that provide an exemption. The Augusta Region seeks to competitively retain separating military service members as they transition from Ft. Gordon as well as import to Georgia former military personnel to support its cyber workforce. We applaud the Georgia General Assembly for implementing an income tax exemption on military retirement benefits.
Augusta University - The University is rapidly growing to meet the needs of the State of Georgia. From medical professionals to cyber professionals, AU is focused on providing the workforce Georgia will desperately need in the future. Continued funding and further growth in areas of critical importance to our future must be a priority. We support funding to support the continuing growth of Augusta University.
Augusta Technical College - Augusta Tech is an important part of our regional educational infrastructure. As the college continues to grow and offer a wider variety of vital educational opportunities, it is important that funding to support its many missions keeps pace. Technical education is an important driver of meeting our local workforce needs, especially in high demand careers. As the Augusta campus continues to meet its mission, it is important that facilities meet the broad geographical needs of the region as well as prioritize, with its facilities, first-in-class educational opportunities and experiences to attract students. We support the appropriations needed to expand Augusta Technical College’s campus and in particular, the proposed Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering Technology facility.
Public K-12 - Georgia must ensure it continues efforts to prioritize funding across all districts as part of its annual budget process. Efforts to increase graduation rates and enhance learning experiences, especially in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math should be an important priority for our state. The expansion of the CTAE Career Pathway programs will greatly aid students in preparing for jobs in highest demand as will the efforts of local school districts to specifically align educational opportunities to the specific needs of a regional workforce. The Chamber supports policy that offers financial resources at the K-12 level for student work based learning and apprenticeships and programs which aid and accelerate a newly emerging workforce.
Licensing and Certifications - Occupational licensing has grown exponentially, today comprising nearly 25% of the US workforce, compared to only 5% nearly 60 years ago. According to the Institute for Justice Research, Georgia’s licensing laws for lower-income occupations rank as the 14th most burdensome in the country. We encourage state policy makers and regulatory departments to ensure modernized and efficient services as well as lower barriers to the portability of licensing and certifications.
TIA (TPLOST) - The Augusta Region has greatly benefited from the ability to utilize local sales tax dollars to fund local transportation needs and will continue to maximize the opportunities that the Transportation Investment Act of 2010 provides. A successful referendum in 2020 now ensures that the Augusta 13-county region will self support growing infrastructure needs locally, through 2032. It Is important, however, that the region continues to benefit from fair and congressionally authorized state and federal transportation funding to that of levels across the state.
Roads & Bridges - Georgia has made great strides in improving the funding of our road networks. Augusta has taken advantage of the opportunities to support enhancement of our transportation system through the use of TIA, to keep up with our needs and encourage growth. We encourage the state to continue to focus on how to increase the impact of existing funding and to continue to focus on the development of a system of roads that will allow Georgia to continue to grow.
Technological Developments in Transportation – In acknowledging the evolution of automotive technology, Georgia is well positioned to support an emerging electric vehicle industry and can serve as an influencer on policy that adapts new transportation technology. The Chamber supports efforts to ensure that state and local communities are well positioned with new infrastructure opportunities that facilitate this evolution.
Georgia’s 630,000++ veterans represent a significant and integral part of the state’s economy. The Chamber supports efforts such as the proposed Augusta Veteran’s Cemetery that provides important services to Georgia’s military families.