Two days after announcing his bid for Georgia governor, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle was in Columbus on Tuesday for a Fort Benning briefing from the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce and to tout his plan to create 500,000 new jobs over four years and cut taxes by $100 million if elected.
The Republican from Gainesville told about 40 business and community leaders that he will work to make sure that military and civilian personnel at Fort Benning have what they need to get their jobs done during a 2:30 p.m. stop in Heritage Hall at the National Infantry Museum & Soldier Center. Cagle, 51, is expected to face a crowded field before the Nov. 6, 2018 election to fill the seat held by Gov. Nathan Deal, who is not allowed to run for a third term.
“It’s refreshing to me that this community always comes together to support military issues,” Cagle said after a briefing from Gary Jones, vice president of Governmental and Military Affairs for the chamber.
Jones said Fort Benning actually lost 2,400 soldiers when the Army went from 490,000 to 450,000 soldiers. The 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team was one of the brigades lost to budget cuts, but it accounts for less than 2 percent of the total cuts since 2011. The post did keep 1,050 soldiers and an economic impact of $92.7 million with the 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment Task Force.
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“We didn’t lose the entire brigade,” Jones said. “We lost two portions of the brigade.”
Cagle said the chamber is ready for what might come from the next Base Realignment and Closure Commission. “We’ve got to continue to be steadfast in our support,” he said.
In his tax cut plan, Cagle said the first $12,000 for a family of four would be exempt. “These are things that are going to put more money into the pockets of citizens,” he said.
Cagle said he will focus on regulatory reform so there is an economic development liaison in place to ensure there is an approach to creating jobs. “Sadly enough, we aren’t going to have to be dealing with delays and inefficiencies of government,” he said.
The lieutenant governor said the state also would be focused on improving the infrastructure, bridges and roads. “We are building out the new corridors in the state, whether we have to go up or go under,” he said. “We have to be willing and committed to creating an infrastructure that’s going to be sustained for the growth we are going to experience as a state.”
In addition to his plan for tax cuts and creating more jobs, Cagle said his platform includes school choice to help military families, and making sure there is a ready workforce.
Public school choice was an issue for soldiers during his last visit to the area. The Legislature passed a bill to give military personnel the ability to choose their school. “They have that right,” Cagle said. “ Giving them those options is the right thing to do.”
To prepare young people for the workforce, Cagle supports colleges and career academies. “I think ultimately where our greatest challenge exists is human capital,” he said. “ You have to have a quality educated work force. It doesn’t necessarily mean a four-year degree. I talk about aligning education with what industry needs are.”
That may be a certified certificate or an associate degree from a technical college. “We have to grow that intellectual capital,” he said.