Georgia Politics in 2007

ATLANTA (AP) - It looked like Gov. Perdue was set for a banner year in 2007.

He was fresh off a resounding re-election win against a tough Democratic opponent. His Republican Party controlled both chambers of the state Legislature. And, after years of belt tightening, state coffers were flush with cash needed to deliver his election-year promises.

But Perdue's veto of a tax cut championed by House Republicans touched off a bitter feud with House Speaker Glenn Richardson.

In a non-election year, where little drama was expected under the state Capitol's Gold Dome, observers witnessed a full-blown GOP family feud.

Perdue's chief spokesman scolded the House for throwing a "temper tantrum.'' A visibly irate Richardson blasted the governor for showing his "backside.''

The standoff also had a real impact: GOP leaders were unable to deliver the significant new tax relief they promised.

Perdue's veto meant that Georgia's 1.9 million homeowners didn't receive a $142 million one-time property tax refund. The refund checks were expected to range between $60 to $100 per household.

The House, meanwhile, failed to pass Perdue's tax cut on retirement income for wealthier senior citizens. That tax cut, which also had a $142 million price tag, was a central promise of Perdue's 2006 reelection campaign.

Richardson argued his tax refund was more equitable because it would benefit more Georgians. Perdue said providing relief for seniors would stimulate the state's economy and help prevent seniors from flocking to neighboring Florida and Tennessee, which have no income tax.

In the end, neither argument prevailed and the tax relief some expected never materialized.

Perdue is still lobbying for his retirement tax cut, and Richardson has set his sites on eliminating the state's property taxes, a plan Perdue says would rip a multibillion hole in the state's economy.


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