Unless they get their act together, House Republicans in Georgia could lose their power just as fast as they acquired it. After 130 years of Democratic dominance in the state legislature, a Republican majority was elected in 2006, but the members have not followed through on campaign promises.
While in the minority, Republicans preached the philosophy of small government, low taxes, and eliminating wasteful spending. Now in power, they have allowed the fiscal 2007 supplemental budget for the state of Georgia to contain more than $50 million in pet projects. Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle, a fellow Republican, threatened to remove the pork projects, resulting in the House taking back the budget and a subsequent legislative showdown.
The battle has increased tensions within the party, as Republicans take sides in support of the Lieutenant Governor or the House. The majority of conservative pundits in Georgia agree with the Lieutenant Governor, as do many senators. Republican Senate Majority Leader Tommie Williams stated, “Our goal is for the mid-year budget to be a slim budget.” The Senate kept the pork out of its budget.
House leaders are expecting the Lieutenant Governor and Senate to back down under pressure, especially with Governor Sonny Perdue, the first Republican since Reconstruction, supporting many of the pet projects.
Lieutenant Governor Cagle and Sen. Williams acknowledge that compromise is possible. But compromise could create a slippery slope. Republicans must not only eliminate the pork, but institute the spending control mechanisms that they accused Democrats of neglecting. Lieutenant Governor Casey needs the support of fiscal conservatives throughout the state to win a crucial battle against wasteful spending.
The Americans for Prosperity had a release out today as well:
Contact your State Senator and the Lt. Governor’s office today and ask them to override the Governor’s veto of the Supplemental budget! The Lt. Governor’s office number is (404) 656-5030. You can find your Senator’s contact information by clicking here.
Even though the Legislative Session officially ended last Friday, the budget impasse will require the General Assembly to go into a special called session. What a tremendous waste of taxpayer dollars!
The cost of a special session is multiplied because legislative rules require them to last 5 days minimum for a minimum extra expense estimated at $175,000. While you’re calling, ask your State Senator to override this veto on the first day and go home!
If you haven’t been following the budget story closely, here’s some background to get you up to speed:
On April 10th, the Speaker Glenn Richardson and Lt. Governor Casey Cagle announced a $142 million tax rebate in a joint press conference with House and Senate leadership. I CANNOT STRESS ENOUGH HOW HISTORIC THIS IS! For the first time in modern Georgia history, new projects are not being invented for surplus tax dollars. THE TAX DOLLARS ARE BEING RETURNED TO TAXPAYERS!
However, the Governor vetoed this budet that passed by overwelming bi-partisan majorities in both the House and Senate last Thursday, the night before the legislative session came to a close. Furthermore, he refused to “officially transmitt” the budget to the House so that an official override vote can take place the next day.
However, Speaker Glenn Richardson and the House leadership take the courageous step of offering an override vote so that the voice of the legislature can be heard. Once again, this budget passed by an overwhelming margin of 163-5! This is true, bi-partisan consensus from every corner of the state.
The Senate refused to act on the veto because of the legal issues surrounding the “official transmittal” of the budget, despite the fact that the Governor had vetoed the supplemental budget the night before in a press conference in his formal office.
We are stuck with a wasteful special session, but it does not have to last long! Call your Senator and the Lt. Governor and tell them to override the veto on day one of the special session and send the surplus funds back to Georgia taxpayers!