By Walter Jones –
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal said Wednesday he hopes legislators are “big enough” to hold no grudge against him for vetoing the controversial religious-liberty bill.
However, his announcement that he was vetoing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA, led to a number of businesses telling state officials they were interested in locating in Georgia, according to Chris Carr, the state’s economic development commissioner.
“Since he has vetoed that bill, we have seen projects that we didn’t know we had been cut from the list who have come back to us, projects that had that told us we would be cut, projects we had where we weren’t cut (all saying they were coming to Georgia),” Carr said. “Also from the tourism standpoint, there are conventions that were going to come here, are going to come here, or are looking to come here and that’s no longer an issue for them and we’re still on the list competing.”
Movie and music-video projects were also at risk of heading to other states, he said.
Those groups that threatened to leave were not just posturing to impact the political debate, according to Carr.
“From the data we’ve seen, the real impact would have been significant,” he said.
On the other hand, since governors in other states did sign similar bills into law, Georgia has picked up business prospects from them, according to the commissioner.
The issue came up when Deal spoke with reporters after giving a speech to the Georgia Logistics Summit. He didn’t mention the veto to that business audience although he did say he wanted to retain the state’s image as a place friendly toward business.
Asked if antagonism from lawmakers over the veto would make it harder to pass education reforms next year that are key goals of his, he said he hoped they wouldn’t hold a grudge.
“I try to take every issue on its face and on its merits. Although I have a difference of opinion with many in the General Assembly with regard to RFRA, I think and hope that they would be big enough that they would look at every issue on its merits,” he said.
The school-funding formula is due for overhaul for the benefit of the students, he said.
“For those who hold grudges, let me ask them this: instead of just having rhetoric, why don’t we have examples? Nobody has ever yet provided me with one clear example of anything that has occurred in the state of Georgia that the RFRA bill would have prevented,” he said.