2010 Georgia General Assembly Kickoff

It’s Day 1 of Georgia’s 2010 General Assembly. The 40 day session has the potential to make or break the current leadership in Georgia. One big issue on everyone’s mind is the Budget.

Budget writers say they will take a very close look at all state programs to see if they can consolidate and cut their way out of the bad economic climate.

That means teachers could see more furlough days or state parks could close. Senate appropriations chair Jack Hill of Reedsville says reserves and federal stimulus dollars are running low.

Republicans in the majority will be faced with a budget that is $4 billion smaller than two years ago.

“The budget is in bad shape,” said Rep. David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge), who is expected to be elected speaker of the House on Monday. “There is fairly widespread agreement that the across-the-board cuts, the nipping and tucking probably won’t be sufficient this session.

“It is going to be looking at a lot of programs and asking, ‘Is this something state government needs to be in the business of doing?’”

Longtime Senate Appropriations Chairman Jack Hill (R-Reidsville) said the state will be trying to get by on about the same amount of money it had in 2005. Since that time, Hill said, the state has added 600,000 more residents, many of them children who must be educated and poor families that rely on state health care programs.

Of course, Georgia is not the only state that has to face budgetary issues. But doesn’t provide a solution for Georgia. The 2010 Budget will be looked at carefully to see where Georgia can cut. Our legislators will take up the scalpel once again and try to finely deduct from an already tightly squeezed budget. The role of government could be a growing factor in what stays and what goes:

Kelly McCutchen, president of the conservative Georgia Public Policy Foundation, argues that the fiscal crisis gives state officials the perfect chance to re-evaluate what the government does.

Schools, he said, could increase the use of cheap online education programs to cut costs. More incentives could be given to state employees and teachers, he said, to choose high-deductible health insurance plans which would cost the state less money.

“You’ve got to look at the little things we shouldn’t be doing anymore, but the big dollars will come from changing the systems in the big areas,” McCutchen said.

Alan Essig, executive director of the liberal-leaning Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, agrees that the state will have to make fundamental changes over the next few years if it doesn’t raise enough money to continue funding the budget. His group wants the state to consider eliminating some special-interest tax breaks and review all the fees it charges, many of which haven’t changed for decades.

Every issue raised, every cent spent, and every action taken by the 2010 General Assembly will go towards voters’ decisions in this year’s elections. Georgia will have a new Speaker of the House, hopefully, a new attitude under the Gold Dome. We here at Peach Pundit wish the General Assembly all the best. Here’s to a great 2010. We’ll be watching.

18 comments

  1. Justin Tomczak says:

    Welcome to the Front Page Tyler.

    It was good seeing you last night.

    Good luck my friend, you will do a great job!

  2. barstool69 says:

    I motion for all furlough days at UGA to be taken on the Fridays before football games/the week of GA/FL.

  3. IndyInjun says:

    The inexorable, yet invisible, will take its toll.

    Remember 3 years ago in January when Governor Perdue, in a sudden, rare and totally unappreciated fit of candor suggested that action be taken to address the $20 billion unfunded liability for employee/retiree health care? Everyone came down on him like a ton of bricks. The legislators I talked with said it was too hot a potato and that they would “fund it out of future revenue growth.’

    My hat went off to Sonny then. He did not get enough credit when he showed bravery, nor did he get support. The people ended up getting NO LEADERSHIP out of the legislature.

    NOW, with each successive year, a bigger slice of this burden becomes due and payable.

    Beyond this liability, the teacher’s retirement system was $3 billion in the hole for the last year.

    These things are on autopilot, so maybe the GOP would be smart to employ the tactic used by their DC brethren – cede control to the Democrats just in time for the whole house of cards to collapse.

    The legislature is in a vise now of declining revenues and expenses that are automatically increasing without need of input.

    The circling chickens that Sonny courageously pointed out then are now roosting.

    Good luck, General Assembly.

    Better luck to Georgia property owners. We are going to be final resting place for the excrement – the ones of us not covered by all those comfy exemptions.

    Property taxes are governed by the same autopilot. The state cannot declare bankruptcy under the constitution. So will the end result be confiscation via taxation?

    A general assembly seat is now flanked by a rock and a hard place.

    Good luck in an impossible situation.

  4. B Balz says:

    I can only hope, Indy, that the 80/20 Rule applies to your unfortunately all-too-scarily-realistic scenario.

    In times of great stress dire predictions proliferate. often followed by a less dire outcomes. The absolute worst case usually happens 20% of the time.

    Georgia has a tremendously bright future and I remain confident that the world view will continue to look favorably on us for investments. That is if we can be progressive in our outlook towards future growth industries, such as biomedical research.

  5. IndyInjun says:

    BB,

    I agree. Georgia and the Southeast are the bright spots.

    What I posted has nothing at all to do with a positive outlook, or lack thereof.

    Its the unwillingness to recognize the mathematics of existing obligations under the constitution that is the problem.

    Sonny Perdue remarkably made the attempt to head this off, but the politics were overpoweringly against him.

    I feel somewhat strange praising the governor, but hindsight is showing that folks should have responded to his overture to correct the situation through shared sacrifice.

    Now the pain of fixing it is excruciating.

    Hats off to Sonny.

    You tried.

    • B Balz says:

      “Its the unwillingness to recognize the mathematics of existing obligations under the constitution that is the problem.”

      I agree with this statement, my point is that the future is not a linear equation. If nothing changes, we are, indeed, bankrupt. I keep my sanity in believing that things will and do change.

      As Speaker Ralston speaks now, about ‘making choices honorably” I cannot help believing that the worst possible scenario will NOT be the future. Faith, resolve, and hope.

  6. Lone Star Georgian says:

    I’m surprised and a little bit distressed that more emphasis is not being placed on the possibility that schools could be forced to eliminate instructional days.

    If you read the AJC article, you’ll see that Jack Hill believes districts might have to go to a 4-day schedule. I’m curious as to whether those would be 4 extended days, or if students would receive fewer hours of instruction overall.

    A state like ours can’t afford to let students fall even further behind.
    I’m all for cutting unnecessary programs, but instructional days? It’s unprecedented. I’m not a budget expert, but I find it hard to believe there’s literally NOTHING else to cut.

    Also, why are tax and fee increases “out of the question”? Is it simply a political calculation? I wonder if I’m the only person out there who would rather pay an extra penny or two than see Georgia’s kids playing their PSPs all day on Friday.

    • Ken in Eastman says:

      My understanding is that Governor Perdue is unwilling to add furlough days for teachers. In case you’re curious, the savingss would be about $50 million per day.

      I think teachers might be understanding if they understand how much is at risk – then again maybe their unions are the tools everyone says they are. I think we should find out.

      • Lone Star Georgian says:

        Oh, I think teachers do understand how much is at stake. But I’m not really as concerned about teachers as I am about kids. I’m concerned about the prospect of losing instructional time, not planning days.

        To me, it’s not about any “understanding” except that kids don’t learn when they don’t go to school. Let’s make that the issue.

  7. spencerman says:

    The Race to the “Bottom” Grants will effect kids….just so you know, those “grants” are wolves in sheep”s clothing. Also, don’t tick off the teachers, we got rid of Roy Boy single handedly.

Comments are closed.