Georgia's Nathan Deal Hands Off Personal Finances

The personal finances of Georgia Governor-elect Nathan Deal ( profile ) caused him trouble on the campaign trail. Now he wants nothing to do with them. He's placing his assets in a blind trust, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports . In doing so, Deal is breaking with the practice of his predecessor, fellow Republican Sonny Perdue. Perdue faced scrutiny for keeping control of his personal finances, especially after he refused to discuss large loans that he received from a bank that included political supporters on its board. Earlier Georgia governors placed investments in a trust, but Deal appears to be going beyond the precedent they set, even placing control of his homes in the hands of the trustee. Political opponents have questioned both Deal's ethics and his personal finances. He faced an investigation by the U.S. House Ethics Committee before resigning from Congress and some accounts suggested he is close to personal bankruptcy. Now, it will be up to the trustee to determine how Deal's debts are paid off. 

Incoming Ohio Governor John Kasich ( profile ) wants to change his state's school funding system. He's trying to figure out whether that would cost the state $400 million it won in the federal Race to the Top education grant program, the Columbus Dispatch reports . Kasich's predecessor, Democrat Ted Strickland, embraced an "evidence-based" school funding model in which the state first determines what research shows is necessary to provide an adequate education and then directs money to school districts to get them up to those standards. It's considered an alternative to a traditional per-pupil funding model. The evidence-based model helped Ohio win the Race to the Top money, but Kasich believes the state lacks the money to implement it. He's hoping to persuade Education Secretary Arne Duncan that the state should get to keep the money, even if its funding model changes. 

Earl Ray Tomblin
, West Virginia 's acting governor, already has decided he'll also keep the job of Senate president, at least in name. That decision, though, comes with large unanswered questions, the Charleston Daily Mail reports . One key question is who, if anyone, can exercise the power that comes from the Senate president's office. Tomblin has said he won't be engaging in legislative activity, citing separation-of-powers concerns. Normally, though, it's the Senate president's job to pick the Senate president pro tempore, who's the person who operates in the president's place when he's absent. If Tomblin picks his own replacement, it could create just the sort of separation-of-powers problem he's trying to avoid. Some senators want to make the choice themselves. Other questions include whether the Senate president pro tempore will have the full constitutional power of the Senate president and what Tomblin's salary will be-governors make $150,000, while Tomblin made around $55,000 when he ran the Senate. Tomblin ascended to the governor's office when Joe Manchin was elected to the U.S. Senate halfway through his second two-year term as governor.  

Michigan has been debating its business tax structure for decades. Even with Republicans in control of state government, it sounds as though the debate isn't quite over yet. Governor-elect Rick Snyder ( profile ) ran on replacing the state's Michigan Business Tax with a more traditional 6 percent corporate income tax. Business leaders complain that the MBT, a form of gross receipts tax, is too complicated and applies to more businesses than the levy it replaced in 2008, the Single Business Tax. The SBT, a modified value-added tax, itself was a controversial topic ever since Michigan adopted it in the 1970s. Incoming House Speaker Jase Bolger and Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville  both say that tax reform is on the agenda, but they aren't willing yet to embrace Snyder's plan, the Detroit News reports .

In the race for New Hampshire speaker, House Republicans picked a forceful conservative over a legislative veteran, the Concord Monitor reports . Bill O'Brien will be the new speaker after he beat out Gene Chandler , a fomer speaker entering his 15th term. O'Brien won with the help of Tea Party support. He's known for his conservative stands on gay marriage and other social issues. 



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