While I was typing a post asking how long it has been since 4-H was considered cool, the candidate for Governor who lives in the center of Georgia’s agribusiness region issued the following statement regarding UGA’s decision to cut 4-H funding:
“The cuts proposed yesterday by the University System of Georgia reflect poor leadership at the top of the system and a lack of understanding of the importance of agriculture in Georgia. University System leaders continue to press for unrealistic measures while collecting exorbitant taxpayer-funded salaries.
Agriculture is Georgia’s major economic driver and vital to the success of our economy. 4-H and county extension offices play a crucial role in extending scientific research to Georgia farms. The long term costs of losing these programs would be far greater than anything we might save in the short term.
Providing our children and our communities with the tools they need to grow agriculture in Georgia means our state can prosper in a global economy where agriculture is increasingly important.Throughout the budget process, I have advocated eliminating programs, assets, and even entire agencies that are not delivering value to the taxpayers. Agricultural programs are not in that category. I will continue to push for the right changes as the General Assembly works through the budget process.
As your next governor, I will be a leader who knows firsthand how important agriculture is to our state. We can find other solutions to the budget crisis, and in a Scott administration, we will.”
As I said in the first post, watch this one closely. A battle between the legislature and the Board Of Regents is rarely public, and both sides will be playing for keeps.
UPDATE: I just spoke with Representative Scott, who asked me to emphasize the following points:
1) The Budget for the Board of Regents has gone from $5.2 BN in FY 2008 to $5.4BN in the proposed FY 2011 Budget. That’s a 200 Million increase in nominal dollars during this time period.
2) The Board of Regents average graduation rate is 60%, yet their funding is partially based on enrollment growth. This sets up a scenario where schools are encouraged to accept students who are not college material, and who have little hope of graduating. Thus, the schools are spending resources on students who shouldn’t be there, and potentially leaving them with thousands of dollars in student loans yet without adding to their employability.
Scott is looking for wholesale changes in funding formulas so that the University System can meet its mission to the students who need to be there, while eliminating the incentive to matriculate students who are not prepared for college.