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Beach, Rogers clash on charter schools, TSPLOST, gambling

Senate candidates spar in Tea Party debate

Candidates Chip Rogers, left, and Brandon Beach collect their thoughts as they wait to be introduced. HATCHER HURD/Staff. (click for larger version)
July 13, 2012
MILTON, Ga. Incumbent state Sen. Chip Rogers and challenger North Fulton Chamber CEO and President Brandon Beach squared off July 10 in a standing-room-only Crooked Creek clubhouse and put their cases forward for the District 21 senate seat.

Former Secretary of State Karen Handel and Atlanta Journal-Constitution political analyst Jim Galloway served as moderators.

The two Republican conservative candidates were largely in agreement on issues close to GOP and Tea Party hearts, supporting such issues as gun rights, a new Milton County and a pro-life stance. But they broke cleanly over school vouchers and charter schools, video gambling and the TSPLOST.

In the matter of charter schools and school vouchers, Rogers said he envisioned a system that was more like the free market in which parents got choices for their children's education. He supports state chartered schools that were not supported by the local boards of education. To that end, school vouchers should have been "passed yesterday."

"The consequences of that will be we'll finally have a market-based system with the best education and school systems to deliver a product to children that they want and desire and not a system based on where you live," Rogers said.

Beach does not support charter schools, saying it is more big government forced on the citizens.

"I don't believe in a Washington style government and everyday I see folks at the Gold Dome trying to control our lives," he said. "Let local elected leaders make decisions. The local school board knows best, we don't need a state mandate."

Beach disagreed on vouchers saying they were not the answer but better schools are, such as the ones in North Fulton and Cherokee counties.

"We need to replicate the good schools we have," said Beach. "My kids went to public school, and my wife taught at Milton High School. We don't need vouchers. We need good public education with parental involvement."

On the ballot this year is a measure that would approve video gambling, something Rogers said he would give his vote.

"If a person earns their own money, they have the right to spend it any way they want. And it's not my business," Rogers said.

If someone wants to build a video gambling venue, that is the free market at work, he added.

Beach said he was not against gambling but would not support video gambling.

"If someone wants to build a casino and have blackjack and roulette, that might be one thing. But video gambling preys on a sector of the community that can least afford it," Beach said.

On the TSPLOST, Beach said he was not only in favor of it, but said it was a necessity. He pointed out a recent study showed Georgia would need $60 billion to fix all of its transportation needs.

"We need transportation infrastructure here to move goods, infrastructure and people," he said.

Beach said the TSPLOST would bring jobs and help local transportation.

"I don't like all that transit in there," Beach said. "But a penny is dedicated to 157 projects you know you're going to get delivered, and I can support that. My opponent supported it twice, but now he said he doesn't like the project list."

Then as a jab at the incumbent, he added, "We've been going down for the legislature for 10 years now asking for a transportation bill [and received nothing.]"

Rogers said he is opposed to the TSPLOST, though he voted for the passage of legislation to put it on the ballot he wanted the people to decide, he said.

But he recently came out against it.

"I'm going to go vote against it because I think it is a terrible idea. To suggest that the TSPLOST should pass is to suggest that government doesn't quite have enough of our money," Rogers said.

He called it an $8 billion tax and said it would kill jobs. Rogers said he would not vote for the measure.

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  1. report print email
    Beach, Rogers Clash in Debate
    July 13, 2012 | 11:54 PM

    Brandon Beach continues to stress how he is for small govt. and less taxes, yet he contradicts this by being FOR the TSPLOST bill which will give GA its largest tax increase in history, as well as add layers of govt. with people who are appointed, not elected. Somehow I don't understand the contradiction in his positions.

    4 Dees
  2. report print email
    "Crooked Creek clubhouse"
    July 15, 2012 | 06:17 PM

    Anyone else see the irony of that name when politicians like Beach discuss TSPLOST? Not one of them can tell us where the GA400 Toll revenue is going with full accountability. Not ONE.

    And then Beach says this gem on video gambling: "But video gambling preys on a sector of the community that can least afford it." Yeah and raising sales tax will NOT 'victimize' (to use his logic) those who can least afford another tax hike on everyday purchase living necessities?

    "He called it an $8 billion tax and said it would kill jobs. Rogers said he would not vote for the measure."

    Rogers also said he'd let the people decide. Currently the polling data I've seen, while unscientific, shows about a 1/3 approval rating (my guess is that most of those 1 out of 3 people supporting TSPLOST are registered Democrat voters). Sounds to me like the people have already decided even before they vote at the end of this month.

  3. report print email
    Spare me
    July 16, 2012 | 09:16 AM

    4 Dees - supporting ONE tax increase means he must be for ALL tax increases? Please....

    Roger T.
  4. report print email
    July 16, 2012 | 09:21 AM

    "Currently the polling data I've seen, WHILE UNSCIENTIFIC" ..... "Sounds to me like the people have already decided".....Ugh.

    Roger T.
  5. report print email
    You'll find out in two weeks....
    July 16, 2012 | 09:48 PM

    how much the "people" have decided. Official "polls" have never been right. Ever. Officially "scientific" or otherwise.

  6. report print email
    July 16, 2012 | 10:49 PM

    Because the majority of folks realize it is to our long term best interest. There is no doubt it will pass

    Jon C
  7. report print email
    July 17, 2012 | 08:58 AM

    Let the people decide, not the politicians. As it should be.

    Roger T.
  8. report print email
    I don't know about that...
    July 17, 2012 | 01:48 PM

    I don't know about "no doubt", because there is certainly "some doubts", but I too think it will pass.

    Roger T.
  9. report print email
    You Got to be Kidding!
    July 19, 2012 | 08:58 AM

    I cannot believe any canidate would say "local school baords know best". If your wife is a teacher I think you may have a bias. However, vouchers equals a "choice." The American public educational system has been pathetic for decades. How can you not realize that? A true conserative republican's default position should be more choices, less governmet and a full endorsement of the private sector. In my humble opinion TSPLOST is a disaster simply as evidenced by previous actions by our state government. Consider taxpayer money spent on:
    1. Failed Fan Fare Complex
    2. MARTA rail to a housing project
    3. Continual use of toll monies to the general fund and pet pork projects.
    And the list can go on...

    I do not have an opinion on either canidate. However by saying a school board knows best really scares me.
    I think PARENTS know best!

    Logical Voter
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