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Perdue urges long-term outlook on economy

By Jason A. Smith

jsmith@henryherald.com

As economic hardships continue in the U.S., Gov. Sonny Perdue is issuing a call for Georgians to remain optimistic about the future of the state and the nation.

The governor spoke Wednesday at the annual Georgia Economic Outlook Luncheon in Atlanta. During the event, Perdue acknowledged the "troubling" nature of the country's financial woes, while also praising the "utter resiliency" of the nation as a whole.

Perdue's press office released a written account of the governor's speech, hours after he made his remarks. The statement quoted the governor regarding a recent meeting he had with fellow governors and President-elect Barack Obama, about the national economy.

Perdue dismissed media reports indicating the governors were "begging" for a bailout from leaders in Washington, D.C.

"From Georgia's perspective, our meeting ... was not intended to ask the federal government to fill a hole in our state budget," he said at the luncheon. "As a matter of fact, it was just the opposite. Many governors shared what we are doing to balance our budgets, and live within our means."

The governor said he and his colleagues encouraged Obama, who is reportedly considering implementing a stimulus package to revive the economy, to examine the "long-term needs" of the country. The focus of such a measure, Perdue added, should be on investment in future projects and not budgets.

"Simply doling out money to states to fill budget gaps is no different than handing it out to companies with flawed business models," said the governor. "I believe it is imperative that we ensure that any stimulus avoids creating an undue burden for the future generations, who will be left to foot the bill."

Perdue said he is "encouraged" by the collective desire of Obama and the country's heads of state, to work together to restore America's economic health.

The governor's spokesman, Chris Schrimpf, praised Perdue for his collaboration with his fellow governors. Schrimpf said leaders in other states would do well to learn from Perdue's example.

"Because of his leadership in the state over the last six years, Georgia is better positioned to handle the current downturn than some of the other states in the nation," said the spokesman. "Georgia has gotten through times like this before, and will get through this as well."

The upbeat perspective offered by Perdue during the luncheon is one which is shared by at least one prominent leader in Henry County.

Steve Cash is the executive director of the Henry Council for Quality Growth. He said "time and patience," and not additional federal funds, are the keys to resolving the country's financial picture.

"People keep looking for bailouts, but money is not going to be a cure-all in this situation," he said. "We have to wait for the economy to correct itself. In Henry County, we're going to be looking at ways we can build responsibly, both residentially and commercially."