Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees. Maybe if It Rained It Would

The state could use it.

Georgia’s revenue took another nosedive Monday as state fiscal managers reported that tax collections in July fell 6.6 percent from this time last year, giving the state a bleak start to its new fiscal year.

The troubling figures come amid mounting pressure on Gov. Sonny Perdue and state legislators to slash more spending or increase taxes to deal with a budget deficit that likely will top $1.6 billion.

44 comments

  1. shrike071 says:

    God forbid, they do something that actually makes sense – like (gasp) raise taxes to pay for vital services that citizens need. You know, things like schools, public infrastructure, healthcare for the poor, etc… These demands will only increase as the economy tanks.

    But no – they’d rather give all sorts of tax-breaks to people that really don’t need it. Like the $146m in tax breaks (over 5 years) granted to health-insurance companies via their high deductible health care plans. Great for well-off folks, the middle-class and poor? Not so much… The other tax giveaways to manufacturers, tourist attractions, timber-land owners and swine-raising operations? $165m this fiscal and $181m next. The sales tax “holiday” was good for about $25m.

    I could go on.

    As Americans, we have an obligation to our fellow-man (or woman) to do what we can to help. Too many of us are so wrapped up in “I, ME, MINE” to give a damn and that’s sad. I’m middle-class, and I would be HAPPY to give more in taxes to make sure that my neighbor’s kids are getting a good education, that the old lady across the street is going to get good healthcare, or that my local firehouse has good gear.

    But that’s just me…

  2. newdayinga says:

    I don’t know if I agree with all that, but it sure seems like they spend alot not to pay for much.

    In my district the local radio (WDUN) had both of the candidates for House District 25 on to talk about the revenue shortfall.

    Mills simply wanted to blame the taxpayers, but his challenger hit the nail right on the head.

    I may not have this quote right, but it is close:

    He said:

    “My opponent [James Mills] wants to call this a revenue shortfall, but a more accurate statement would be that we have a spending crisis… The liberal spending philosophies of the current administration and house leadership have simply broken the bank.”

    He also said we need to work on prioritizing the budget like we do our family budgets. Cuts across the board do not make sense. And all of this from a Democrat. If he keeps making this much sense, Sandoval might start investigating his voting record.

    Check out his site http://www.strickland08.com

  3. Tea Party says:

    Troops stationed at the TN border would be defenseless and out-flanked. We could not establish our border fight.

    Soon dogs would be sleeping with cats.

    The gubbermint must survive. Say no to reduced spending….yawn

  4. You’d think with all the business leaders we’ve elected that they would run the government like, you know, a business. you know those new fangled things where they try and make profit by cutting costs and being efficent?

  5. John Konop says:

    The problem is real wages are dropping via a falling dollar. Unless the federal government gets its fiscal act together and we head toward a balance budget this shortfall will grow via less tax revenue from people having less disposable income to spend. This also feeds smaller raises, less State income tax and less business tax revenue via fewer sales.

    DEBT DOES MATTER!

  6. IndyInjun says:

    What we really have is a deficit of LEADERSHIP.

    It came to the attention of the General Assembly nearly 2 years ago, or more, that there was an unfunded liability of $20 billion at net present value in the health care benefit plans for state employees and retirees.

    When I asked aspirants to the Georgia Senate about this then, NEITHER of the opposing finalists would touch it. Both of them said they would “fund it out of future revenue growth.”

    BIG PROBLEM, that.

    Every year a slice of that $20 billion comes due, so the revenue stream must cover prior year spending PLUS this gift that will keep on giving.

    The General Assembly KNEW that this was a problem, but being typical politicians would not ask for a shared sacrifice between beneficiaries and tax payers in an effort to solve the problem.

    Tomorrow came a damn sight quicker than they thought.

  7. jsm says:

    “…like (gasp) raise taxes to pay for vital services that citizens need.”

    Give us a list of those vital services, shrike, and then explain why the state needs to pay for all of them.

    “He also said we need to work on prioritizing the budget like we do our family budgets. Cuts across the board do not make sense. And all of this from a Democrat.”

    Funny, newday, I didn’t hear your democrat say which state agencies or departments would be highest priority and which would be lowest under his plan. I also haven’t heard him one time mention where he would cut state spending. Until he gives some specifics, he’s just blowing hot air.

    “Mills simply wanted to blame the taxpayers,”

    Somebody’s fibbing again. Mills is talking about going after delinquent taxpayers. That’s a step in the right direction.
    http://www.accessnorthga.com/detail.php?n=211953

  8. John Konop says:

    Indy you are right as usual. The problem also is we also have supporters on both sides more engaged with talking point spin than dealing with the issue.

    Please keep up the fight!

  9. Jmac says:

    Give us a list of those vital services, shrike, and then explain why the state needs to pay for all of them.

    Um, education … roads … law enforcement … trauma care.

  10. joe says:

    Jmac // Aug 12, 2008 at 8:17 pm

    Give us a list of those vital services, shrike, and then explain why the state needs to pay for all of them.

    Um, education … roads … law enforcement … trauma care.

    Well, that covers 10-25% of the state government. Get rid of the rest, and give me my money back.

  11. GBPI says:

    I thought a few facts might help this discussion. The breakdown of the state budget (FY 2009):

    Board of Education 40.7%
    Board of Regents 11.3%
    Other Education 2.0%
    Medicaid and PeachCare 11.3%
    Department of Human Resources 8.1%
    Department of Corrections 5.8%
    All Other Public Safety 4.1%
    Transportation 4.3%
    Debt Service 5.0%
    Homeowners Tax Relief Grant 2.1%
    All Other State Government 4.4%

    Link to GBPI Report “FY 2008 Amended Budget and FY 2009 Budget as Passed”

    http://www.gbpi.org/pubs/gabudget/20080610.pdf

    Alan Essig

  12. John Konop says:

    GBPI

    How much money would we save if each county was responsible for education?

    1) Unfunded mandates like math 123
    2) The overhead for Kathy Cox and company
    3) The extra administration cost at local level to follow unfunded mandates from the State
    4) The failed policy that caused students to repeat grades or go to summer school

    I could go on and on…….. Bottom line the Constitution does not guarantee results only the ability to kick people out at the local level for failure. The problem is both parties keep pushing federal or state control down the throat of local communities. The results are in cost is up and results are down!

  13. MSBassSinger says:

    Am I missing something? Seems like the basic principles that would apply in the scenario below could be applied for state government.

    John Smith was informed by his employer that he would see a 10% drop in his gross salary. John could either reduce his spending, hold a gun to his boss’ head to get back the 10%, or keep borrowing money to make up the difference.

    John decided to reduce his spending as the only sensible solution. He took out his budget, prioritized the line items that provided for 4 core necessities: food, utilities, shelter, and transportation to work. He cut or eliminated some line items that were not directly related to the 4 prioritized budget items. He dropped his gym membership and made time to walk or run each day. He downgraded his cable from the full package to basic digital. He cancelled a few magazine subscriptions, and cut back on vacation plans. He cut back to playing golf only once a month. Now he was back to living within his means.

    In order to increase revenue, he found a way to reduce what he charged customers that increased the volume of sales so that he made more by selling at a lower price. After a couple of years, John was making more money than before, but still living on the reduced budget, giving him something to fall back on should times ever get rough again.

    Can someone please explain to me why the principles underlying what John did would not work for state government?

  14. Jmac says:

    jsm, we’re actually pushing 70 percent of state spending on the items I listed (give or take a few percent). Far be it from me to argue we shouldn’t tighten our belt in lean times, but you’re looking a large portion of the state’s budget falling under what you concede appear to be vital services.

    All that to say, it’s easy to start talking about trimming spending, but much of it is necessary and requested by the citizens.

  15. odinseye2k says:

    “How much money would we save if each county was responsible for education?”

    I dunno, but I somehow imagine that suburban Atlanta would have decent schools in that case, and the rest of the state would begin to resemble something out of the plaintiff’s file from Brown v. Board of Education.

    Coming from a rural school (not in this state), and seeing my neighboring towns’ schools fall apart as property levee after property levee fail doesn’t give me much optimism for local funding. Luckily, my town was part bedroom community for State workers, and so they knew the importance of investment.

    Even still, we were no match for the way that larger city schools aggressively promoted students into college and well-paying careers. I still want to slash my counselor’s tires for the complete slack-ass job he did when I was there.

    Also, I wouldn’t trust the local school board from any of the neighboring towns to put anything together without a State education person holding their hand the whole way.

  16. odinseye2k says:

    “John Smith was informed by his employer that he would see a 10% drop in his gross salary. John could either reduce his spending, hold a gun to his boss’ head to get back the 10%, or keep borrowing money to make up the difference.”

    You forgot option c. John joined or formed a union and got his boss to stop cheating him out of his productivity gains.

    You also seem to assume that the state government is not doing all of the things you mention already – they’re cutting costs, and often in some painful places.

  17. MSBassSinger says:

    odinseye2k,

    There is no excuse for eduction being 40.7%. Remove the useless state and whatever federal mandates that can be dumped, and make education what it used to be – education instead of indocrination. Dump the social engineering and the “green” propaganda. Private schools educate the full spectrum of students better than government schools, even in rural areas of Georgia, and do it for significantly less.

    And how many budget line items are not required by the Georgia Constitution?

    BTW, unions are the quick path to job losses and ruin for the employee and the local and state economy. They screwed up the steel and auto industries, among others, big-time. I’ve seen first hand what unions can do, and no one with half a brain would be a part of one except for short-term greed.

  18. Three Jack says:

    “How much money would we save if each county was responsible for education? “

    None. In fact, education costs would probably increase significantly if funded solely with local property taxes.

    Better question, how much would we save if government got out of the education business? GA is already near the bottom in results despite having the highest paid teachers, local superintendents making twice as much as the governor and no end to annual spending increases. If this were a private enterprise, it would have been dissolved decades ago.

  19. MSBassSinger says:

    This story is germane to the discussion, I think.

    Catching Wild Pigs
    “Do you know how to catch wild pigs?”

    You catch wild pigs by finding a suitable place in the woods and putting corn on the ground. The pigs find it and begin to come everyday to eat the free corn. When they are used to coming every day, you put a fence down one side of the place where they are used to coming.

    When they get used to the fence, they begin to eat the corn again and you put up another side of the fence. They get used to that and start to eat again. You continue until you have all four sides of the fence up with a gate in the last side.

    The pigs, who are used to the free corn, start to come through the gate to eat, you slam the gate on them and catch the whole herd.

    Suddenly the wild pigs have lost their freedom. They run around and around inside the fence, but they are caught. Soon they go back to eating the free corn. They are so used to it that they have forgotten how to forage in the woods for themselves, so they accept their captivity.

    This is exactly what is happening to America , and in Georgia. The government (Republican’ts and Democrats) keeps pushing us toward socialism and keeps spreading the free corn out in the form of programs such as supplemental income, tax credit for unearned income, tobacco subsidies, dairy subsidies, payments not to plant crops (CRP), welfare, medicine, drugs, etc.. While we continually lose our freedoms — just a little at a time.

    One should always remember: There is no such thing as a free lunch! Also, a politician will never provide a service for you cheaper than you can do it yourself.

    ‘A government big enough to give you everything you want, is big enough to take away everything you have.’ – Thomas Jefferson

  20. John Konop says:

    Three Jack

    I said nothing about how it was funded. My point was simple Kathy Cox and company add overhead as well NCLB and the results stink!

    Why eliminate te overhead and unfunded mandates and let each County manage the money.

  21. MSBassSinger says:

    I agree with John Konop.

    I would go further and support that the money raised for education follows the student. That would certainly decrease the cost of education and improve the outcome.

    Do we raise taxes for education (i.e we educate students), or for the support of ineffective teachers and useless administrators/overhead?

  22. odinseye2k says:

    “There is no excuse for eduction being 40.7%.”

    So, how does the QBE work again?

    Going state-wide for revenue spreads things around a lot more evenly than going local. I mean, I guess you don’t have a problem tying education to the average property wealth in a given area, but I tend to believe in equal opportunity slightly more than that.

    “I’ve seen first hand what unions can do, and no one with half a brain would be a part of one except for short-term greed.”

    Ah, so when workers maximize their income, that’s greed, but when employers maximize their income, that’s just working hard and good ol’ American entrepreneurship. Gotcha.

    “GA is already near the bottom in results despite having the highest paid teachers…”

    Actually, if you check the stats from the AFT, Georgia is 18, although that doesn’t account for near the bottom scores. However, I would like to go deeper into the stats on that one – it’s easier for average stats to sway to the high end based on places like the Atlanta suburbs than for test scores to be swayed to the high end (since scores are capped).

    But, I’d probably agree that for the problem cases, putting cash into schools is going to reach diminishing returns. The same money would probably be better spent investing in getting more school-oriented cultural features into the appropriate communities.

  23. Icarus says:

    The same money would probably be better spent investing in getting more school-oriented cultural features into the appropriate communities.

    WTF?

  24. MSBassSinger says:

    odinseye2k,

    >it’s easier for average stats to sway to the high
    > end based on places like the Atlanta suburbs
    I am not so sure Atlanta area schools are better. When I moved my family up here from rural south Georgia, they were 1/2 to 1 year ahead of the students in the same grade in Cobb County schools. I always knew south Georgia had better football teams, but the academics were surprising.

    > I guess you don’t have a problem tying
    > education to the average property wealth in a
    > given area
    Well, I do think property taxes are an immoral way to raise taxes, but I am most likely in the minority on that.

    > so when workers maximize their income,
    > that’s greed
    Workers mazimize their income by keeping up to date on their trade, working smart and working hard, and acheiving excellence in their work. Unions are for sloths.

  25. odinseye2k says:

    “The same money would probably be better spent investing in getting more school-oriented cultural features into the appropriate communities.

    WTF?”

    Yeah, that felt weird to me, too. I shouldn’t try to speak conservatese. I think the point was that at some point, you’ve either got to make the school responsible for everything in a kid’s life or shore up things at home.

  26. MSBassSinger says:

    Schools should teach academics – starting with reading/literature, writing, mathematics, science, and the interrelated studies of history, politics, and government. They should also offer art, music, and athletics in such a way over the 12 years of school, that students get them all for at least some of the years.

    Leave the rest to the parents, the churches, and the community. And any student who has shown a propensity for being a behavior problem needs to be expelled until such time as the school can reasonably trust the child to behave and learn. Teachers and administrators who promote a child who has not mastered the minimum requirements for a grade should be civilly liable for child abuse. Would anyone be surprised if I favored getting the feds completely out of education, and curtailing at least some of the authority the state government has over local schools?

  27. jsm says:

    “It takes a village idiot to spend this much money on schools and NOT have anything substantial to show for it.”

    The problem as I see it is that no one is willing to address the lack of results from the current system. We call ourselves the land of the free and pride ourselves in free market capitalism, but we’re unwilling to apply those concepts to our educational system. We have leadership who thinks government must micromanage the system or it goes to pot. Nevertheless, we see that the current system is in the pot, and so we throw more money at it rather than looking at innovative solutions.

    I know democrats disagree with this idea, but we need to take a little risk on the free market with education. Private and home schools are producing better numbers than the state can produce and with less money. Kids who don’t care are being forced to stay in a system that does nothing more than babysit them.

    At least a few communities in the state are now operating career academies for kids who don’t want to go to college and would rather learn a valuable trade. This is a step in the right direction. We need to build more of these, and we need to make schools and school systems compete for students and their tuition.

  28. odinseye2k says:

    “Leave the rest to the parents, the churches, and the community. And any student who has shown a propensity for being a behavior problem needs to be expelled until such time as the school can reasonably trust the child to behave and learn.”

    You’ve just defined a downward spiral. A freshman in developmental psychology will tell you that. Punishment alone doesn’t work unless you can establish the correct behavior and have some rewards on the other side. And those rewards have to be relatively immediate (as y’all with your economic reasoning continuously point out) rather than deferred.

    Overall, I agree, schools *should* focus on the current state of academic knowledge and some practical skills (home ec, personal finance including investment and debt, etc.).

    All I ask of you is what happens when the parents fail? We can develop systems to do a lot of things … however, if the school is the inappropriate place to deal with behavior, then we need something else that will be there.

  29. odinseye2k says:

    “We call ourselves the land of the free and pride ourselves in free market capitalism, but we’re unwilling to apply those concepts to our educational system. We have leadership who thinks government must micromanage the system or it goes to pot.”

    I think a lot of people on both sides of the aisle that look at the problem will agree that there are some major management issues within schools and the matching of available resources to needs. For example, the most experienced teachers (and I’d extend this to college as well) should be the ones teaching difficult classes and challenging students. In almost any other field, we trade higher pay for greater responsibility.

    However, in many schools, the plum assignments are kids that are very well-behaved and motivated. So seniority goes to making the job easier rather than harder.

    I could see a merit system that doesn’t reward just on raw test scores, but rather treats good scores as a gateway to tougher assignments (the way you get rewarded by promotion rather than simple bonuses at the same job in many places).

  30. odinseye2k says:

    Oh, and what I left out is the hard classes should be seen as the promotion rather than a chore.

  31. MSBassSinger says:

    odinseye2k,

    > All I ask of you is what happens when the
    > parents fail?”
    Very good question. In a land whose culture has always contained the concept of personal responsibility, the answer is that parents are responsible. What if a child has parents who do not make sure teh child is propely educated? The opportunities are there for anyone, regardless of upbringing, to at some point change their circumstances. We have adult education centers and public libraries for those with poor educations to correct that problem. But in the end, we hold parents responsible for how they raise their kids. Government, no matter how altruistic, can never share that responsibility. If I could spend months, when I worked as a lowly pipefitter and draftsman, spending my lunch hours in my car studying algebra, trigonometry, geomtry, and calculus so I could excel at my work, anyone can. If a person is not willing to work to better themselves, the government is not going to change that.

    > Punishment alone doesn’t work unless you can
    > establish the correct behavior and have some
    > rewards on the other side.”
    Sure it does. It’s worked for centuries.
    We know what the correct behavior is – attend class on time, with the right attitude, particiapte, do your assignments, and show you understand the material. The reward is that you get to graduate and have a lot more opportunity in life. No one can truly call themselves an adult until they grasp the benefits of delayed gratification.

    The education system we had in the 1st half of the twentieth century was responsible for turning out talent like the world has never seen. They were able to invent and develop some of the best technology – and without computers. I cringe now when I interview 20-something college grads. The lack of understanding and education is appalling.

    > A freshman in developmental psychology
    Now there’s the basis for a sound argument. Might as well have said “a freshman in developmental voodoo”. When psychology is approached as a science, it has much to offer. The problem is that science is too often unwelcome in psychology.

  32. MSBassSinger says:

    odinseye2k,

    >most experienced teachers (and I’d extend this
    > to college as well) should be the ones teaching
    > difficult classes and challenging students. In
    > almost any other field, we trade higher pay for
    > greater responsibility.
    Here you and I agree 100%. Teachers that can get the miscreants to learn should be paid like CEOs (which I think is what the market would bear for those few who can). The same goes for administrators like Joe Clark.

    If I were forming a school today, I’d be looking for as many retired Marines, Rangers, and Seals as I could get for teachers. You know, men who understand there is no “highway option”. 🙂

  33. Three Jack says:

    konop, lemme edumicate you a bit about georgia, a state with 159 counties and over 180 school systems.

    if your idea took effect, the current lawsuit with 50 some odd counties suing the state over education funding would become 100 counties. under your scenario, what happens to all those counties that now receive ‘donations’ from big revenue counties like cobb, gwinnett, cherokee…? do you just shut down those school systems?

    a better solution is an incremental move toward school choice with a significant increase in private options.

    save a child, get government out of education.

  34. John Konop says:

    Three Jack

    Let me educate you about life.

    The reason the GOP has lost many of us is the party has been taken over by big government Republicans like you. Your logic that the only way we can solve the funding problems with Schools is by having a State agency that passes on unfunded failed requirements like Math 123, as a referee between counties shows why the system is in trouble. This is the same failed logic via Bush/Kennedy that brought us No Child Left Behind another failed heavy handed program from the federal government supported by both parties.

    In my time all I know is your solution of heavy mandates from the State and Federal government has only drove cost up and delivered terrible results. A big government Republican is no different than a big government Democrat. Fools like you on both sides is why we are facing a 10 trillion dollar national debt, falling dollar, out of control inflation and piss poor results!

    Look in the mirror you are part of the problem. As I said her before the CONSTITUTION does not guarantee results. Yet if we have local control we can vote people out of office. Now because of people like you on both sides all we have is a finger pointing game between, local, state and federal officials!

  35. John Konop says:

    Three Jack

    What you are saying is that it is impossible to shut down worthless State and Federal agencies? How else can we balance the budget? BTW the topic is about “Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees”

  36. John Konop says:

    Three Jack

    We all get you are spinning the issue. The funding issue between school districts has nothing to do with putting Kathy Cox and company out of business. Once again supporting unfunded mandates by large State and Federal agencies is the problem not the solution.

    The GOP is lost because to many party insiders like you covered for the largest expansion of government under Bush and a GOP congress. Why do you think only large government agencies can solve problems?

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