Austin Scott Backs 4-H Program; Calls UGA’s Planned Cuts “Poor Leadership At The Top” UPDATED

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.

104 comments

  1. I know this is starting to sound like a well used drum, but here in the rural part of the State 4-H is a big deal. In some of the poorer counties it’s a key part of growing up for the youth.

    It’s not the only problem with these cuts though. . .

    • polisavvy says:

      You are absolutely right about the importance of 4-H. When I was growing up, our county was considered a rural county and 4-H was very important to us as children and teenagers. Representative Scott is very accurate about the importance of agriculture in Georgia. The battle with the Board of Regents is going to get very ugly before all is said and done.

  2. ByteMe says:

    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.

    Geez, they can tell teachers to take a whole mess of unpaid days, but god forbid you tell the farmers in the poor counties that they need to find another teat to suck and … BOOM!

        • polisavvy says:

          This is true; however, the farmers are usually not given the attention that they should. Take here for instance, in the last month, more often than not, we are discussing how the economy has impacted teachers — I can’t recall when any attention was focused on the farmers and what agriculture brings to Georgia.

          Food for thought: ” Agriculture remains Georgia’s largest industry, generating more than $5.1 billion per year in cash receipts to the state’s economy. Despite all the changes in society, farming remains the foundation of the state’s economic well-being. One of out of seven Georgians works in agriculture. forestry or related sector. Agriculture contributes more than $57 billion, or about 16% annually to Georgia’s $350 billion economic output. More than 65% of Georgia is in forestland, it is a $19.7 billion per year industry. Georgia top ten commodities in order of rank are broilers, cotton, forestry, peanuts, beef, dairy, hatching layers, horses, greenhouse & container nurseries. Georgia ranks first in U.S. in production of peanuts, pecans, rye, eggs & broilers. Georgia produecs almost half of the peanuts produces in the U.S each year. Georgia is the leading Kaolin Clay producing state in the U.S. & leader of marble, barite, bauxite products. Georgia leads the nation in broilers and value of egg production.” Peanut Politics, 10/29/09.

          Does that not raise any concerns as to why agriculture is so vitally important to Georgia? If it doesn’t, it certainly should.

          • aquaman says:

            Remove chickens and the economic impact is really diminished. The BOR picked these (4H and extension) because they have the broadest support base geographically. Doesn’t every county have both therefore every member of the General Assembly will be hearing from their constituents.

            • LoyaltyIsMyHonor says:

              Aquaman is right. When the legislature demands cuts, agencies always pick the most politically sensitive programs to cut….in the end, nothing or very little get’s cut.

            • Doug Deal says:

              Chickens and eggs are about 55% of the Ag industry in Georgia (I used to work for Goldkist). Of the rest, I think that about 30% are in crops and the remaining 15% are other livestock and dairy.

  3. janna says:

    I agree with Ronald. I’d also like to point out that the 4-H program in Glynn County has a serious marine science program. A couple of years ago the program won International honors for a tide and current project. Information from this project was actually used by area scientists. IMHO, any program that promotes science education is vital. BTW, in Glynn County isn’t uncool to be in 4-H at all .

  4. gasurvivor says:

    “We can find other solutions to the budget crisis, and in a Scott administration, we will.”

    ….like what? Awkward Scott strikes again.

    • AnyoneElse2010 says:

      “I have advocated eliminating programs, assets, and even entire agencies that are not delivering value to the taxpayers. ”

      I know that GA education isn’t the best, but jeez you’d think you would be able to read the sentence above. Excuse me if I am wrong but these are other solutions.

      • TigerLily says:

        The sad thing is Georgia has two universities ranked in the top 20 nationally but the state would rather eat it’s children than educate them. Higher education isn’t a right but we sure have put the value of a higher education degree in our hiring standards. What a mess.

      • gasurvivor says:

        There is a difference between ideas and solutions. When advocating to save a specific item, you need to have a specific solution. Scott brought none.

  5. Doug Deal says:

    Translation: My protected group is more important than your protected group.

    How about everyone sharing in the burden instead of finding ways to shove it onto someone else?

    There is limited money. We are spending too much. The turnip called the taxpayer is dry.

    Cuts have to be made. Why is this so hard for people to understand?

    • gasurvivor says:

      Well said, no one is protected. No petition, rally or blip-on-the radar Gubernatorial candidate can offer a safe haven.

    • ByteMe says:

      Farmers have more political clout than teachers. Probably because farmers make more money than teachers.

        • You mean farmers only sell directly to the government? Geeze, thanks for clearing that up… all this time, I thought they actually sold to corporations, grocery stores and farmer’s markets.

          Would you like to try that statement again?

          • ByteMe says:

            And here I was just going to leave the statement alone. Sort-of like a marker at the entrance to haunted house that says “don’t go here”.

            • Yeah… I suppose I normally would have… but when I leave my day job as a geek, I’m a farmer. My wife runs our farm full time. I guess someone in the government must have overlooked us and forgotten to send us our monthly check, as the only income we receive from the government is when they give us our money back through tax refunds.

              • Republican Lady says:

                Every spring/summer, I seek out the roadside fruit/veggie stands to buy my produce. To me, it is healthier, fresher, and I prefer to support the farmer directly rather than grocery chains and the middlemen everywhere.

                Do you have a roadside stand? If so, I hope it is one I have bought from and I hope you make money from it. All that hard work should be rewarded.

                • Actually we go to farmer’s markets with produce. However, the majority of our operations is horse related. The produce is just a byproduct of having lots of composted horse manure to grow our organic gardens. We just started up last year though, so we’re still in our infancy of operations… 🙂

                  • Republican Lady says:

                    Well, if you ever do decide to have a farmstand, post the location and I am there with my checkbook, or cash if preferred.

                    Do you go to the Cumming Farmer’s Market near the fairgrounds on Wednesday and Saturday mornings? Some people sell veggies year round. Good food too.

                    • Yep, sure do. You might have bought from us last year then. We usually parked next to the guy with the corn meal, though sometimes we got there a bit late and someone else had already parked next to him. We were either in a big white dually pickup truck or a black excursion. I think we were the only ones selling organic most weeks, though we rarely made it out on Wednesdays.

    • IndyInjun says:

      Deal, you nailed it.

      100% of the people have at least one entitlement. Everyone thinks his/hers is EARNED. The money has been looted from every one of them. The USA is armed to the teeth.

      I have been asking people about voluntarily cutting their particular entitlement. What I get is a uniformly hostile response.

      Being entertained was more important to the average American and Georgian than assuring that government was responsible and operated within the Constitution.

      Unless there is shared sacrifice, this is a kettle that will blow.

      Georgia has its own sacrosanct spending as the responses from teachers and regents proves.

    • I don’t see how cutting 4-H funding is everyone sharing the burden. Last time I checked, 4-h was a quasi-education body that taught kids leadership and other skills as well as culturally enhanced their outlooks on life.

      I know it’s different in Ohio, but that is what the group does here. But you know, we can cut it. Why don’t we start cutting stuff not related to education? Make sports boosters programs pay into the school systems. This isn’t about even distribution of burden at all, and your attempt to categorize it as such is beneath you Doug. Look at the rest of the stuff in this proposal – really do we think cutting upper division courses to the bone and offering more freshmen courses is a good idea? What about the displaced people trying to graduate, let’s get them stuck in a four year program that already takes five years to finish for at least another year! Sure, Hope’s paying for it, right?

      They are hedging their bets that things will be better in the next few years, and they can afford to bring back upper division courses for all the freshmen they are trying to get to bolster numbers – but what if they are wrong? Do we curtail what it takes to graduate?

      Yeah, let’s cut something useful like the Extension Offices and 4-H funding, and muck up higher education course distribution – and fund a horse track and fishing pond in Perry. We need those like I need another hole in my head, and I can’t keep track of the holes already.

      • Doug Deal says:

        I would be happy to cut sports programs too. We do not have the money to pay for what we promissed and the fact is projections only get worse for the near future.

        Everyone thinks their subsidy from the treasury is more important than everyone elses. When we are in one of the worst recessions in 30 years, no one has a leg to stand on. I have read pessimistic estimates that the 2012 shortfall might exceed 2 Billion (10% of the entire state budget, of which 99.9% is apparently untouchable). Where are we going to get the resolves to address that crisis, when we do not have the ability to address out current relatively minor problems?

        As for Ohio, it is a larger agriculture state than Georgia by far, and most of it’s Ag is not concentrated in the single area of poultry related products. My house was closer to dairy farms and corn fields than anything considered big city. So, cheap shot, RD.

        • aquaman says:

          According to the USDA in 2007 Georgia total sales in ag out paced Ohio by about $43 million.

          • Doug Deal says:

            My numbers have Ohio at over 7.8 Billion with 4 Billion in crops and Georgias at around 6 Billion with over 3 Billion going to chicken and chicken by products.

            If you have other numbers, I would love to read them. But my point was not to compare those numbers to 6 decimal places, it was to point out that Ohio is as much or even more of an agricultural state as Georgia and to make reference to the place I lived over 20 years ago is a cheap shot.

            • But that’s not what was said, and your numbers are right by count. This is what was said:

              “I know it’s different in Ohio, but that is what the group does here.”

              That’s exact phrase. Show me, where in that phrase is a cheap shot at Ohio. I’m stating something that I know to be fact – 4H is different in Ohio than it is here. I’m sorry if you feel that is a cheap shot at your home State, I did not intend it to be and I guess I still don’t see how it is?

              • Doug Deal says:

                Sorry RD if I read more into the Ohio thing. On the surface I thought it sounded like “that big city Yankee doesn’t know nothing ’bout Ag.” I have a great deal of respect and have actually lived near it (cows are a couple of stone throws from my house) or worked in industries related to it for a good part of my life.

                But we have spent our selves into virtual debtors prison and the only ideas the folks in Washington, Atlanta, and Macon can come up with is spend more or tax more and never cut more (unless it’s tax deductions they are cutting.)

                • Yeah . . Sorry about that miscommunication there, I was speaking to the 4H organization. Which I assumed growing up in Ohio you would have been exposed too.

                  If I was going to take a cheap shot, it’d involve some Tech school in Atlanta 😛

                  I think Rep. Scott does want to make cuts – look at the update to this entry.

              • Doug Deal says:

                Good info. I rechecked several sources and every one of them has different numbers, particularly year to year (I would imagine draughts and livestock prices have a say in that). In any event, they are close enough to at least be roughly similar. Not every northern state is “New York City”.

                http://www.ers.usda.gov/StateFacts/OH.HTM

                I had actually compared this one to the figures from the State DoA of Georgia, and they likely have a differing basis.

  6. ChiefofStaff65 says:

    Way to to GAS! Your added analysis really provided deep and insightful thought. It is a pleasure to have your insight and I look forward to your deep, though provoking, high school senior news analysis.

    • gasurvivor says:

      Almost as provoking as saying one will find solutions, but, uh, not when it matters?

      This is a political news release with no solutions. Neither deep nor thought* provoking, but I guess one could call it equivalent to a high school senior analysis.

      • LoyaltyIsMyHonor says:

        Don’t mind him, he has a long-standing Man Crush on Mr. Scott.

        It’s pretty comical actually.

        • polisavvy says:

          I’m a little confused by what you said — exactly what do you mean? Sounds more like he hates him.

          • LoyaltyIsMyHonor says:

            I was telling GAS to ignore COS.
            COS has the man crush…
            Here, I’ll diagram it for you:

            COS—-(man crush)—>AS

            GAS—(ignore)—>COS

            AS—(empty suit/empty press release/crazy possessed look)—>SCARY

            • polisavvy says:

              Thanks for the explanation; however, I don’t believe Austin Scott can be categorized as an empty suit. Looking at some of the other candidates, he’s capable of holding his own with them.

                • polisavvy says:

                  Not so sure about that. Think that there are several who could still get rise in the polls (which still are meaningless this far out) and get the nomination and a few could take a huge hit and tumble. Nothing is written in stone, yet! 🙂

                  • benevolus says:

                    Those polls are not meaningless. Ox is leading, and if the other candidates do not accept that and develop an appropriate response, they will lose.

                • LIMH,

                  I’ve had a lengthy discussion with Austin Scott. We covered lot of ground – and not just about the governor’s race. He had good ideas that were well-articulated – some about federal taxation that I had never heard before and that I believe are original to him.

                  Austin Scott is not an intellectual light-weight and I’m not sure how you got that idea.

  7. ACConservative says:

    Maybe the BoR and everyone in the state house should quit drawing paychecks. That should save us quite a bit of money.

  8. ACConservative says:

    I also find it laughable that Austin Scott is blaming the USG for the proposed cut to the 4-H program. He and his buddies up in the state house were the ones that backed Eroll Davis into this position. I believe that Seth Harp said to cut $300 million or they’d do the cutting themselves.

    I don’t know who is more disastrously inept the Democratic Congress or the Republican State House.

    • Lawton Sack says:

      Sen. Jack Hill said in Statesboro Saturday that the $300 million was discussed, but he felt like it would be closer to $150 million in the end. He said the filing fees on civil cases would increase. He also said other fees would be brought closer in line with those in SE GA.

  9. Mozart says:

    ‘scuse the fact that I’m just a city-boy, but what, exactly, does “4-H” stand for and what does it do?

    • concernedgacitizen says:

      4-H is a part of Cooperative Extension, which is so named because it is funded cooperatively by government at not just the State, but the Federal (through USDA), and local (Boards of County Commissioners). Specifically 4-H additionally receives funding in Georgia through its revenues derived from the five Georgia 4-H Environmental Education Centers (Camps), and through private donors and grants through the Georgia 4-H Foundation. Yes, I’m a donor.

  10. Progressive Dem says:

    4H huh. We must really be cutting into the bone now. Cutbacks to animal husbandry, that’ll really hurt the state’s future. And the Extension Service too, golly how can I get my garden soil tests.

    Honestly, why wasn’t this at the top of the cut list?

  11. ACConservative says:

    I guess Austin Scott thinks its more important to give some little kid a blue ribbon for his cow than to attract business with an educated workforce.

    I’m sorry Austin, but you’re wrong on this one. I don’t think you realize that UGA is doing more for agriculture in this state than the 12 year olds on a 4-H van to Six Flags.

  12. concernedgacitizen says:

    Just wanted to weigh in on what 4-H Youth Devlopment programs are actually designed to do. I am reading a lot about the importance of 4-H in regards to how it is designed to deliver agricultural education, which is in reality a very small portion of the total program, and a perception that remains from 4-H’s early roots in the early 1900s. 4-H is actually the research based youth development organization of the Land Grant University system. Yes, there are some kids that live on farms and show cows in 4-H, but there are also kids involved in Marine Science, Theatre Arts, Robotics, Photography, International Exchange Oportunities, Legislature and Government, Afterschool programs, etc….essentially anything that gets the young person in the door…4-H can offer. Also, as I’ve noticed that a few people have compared 4-H in different states, I just wanted to point out that 4-H can look very different from state to state and county to county because it is designed to be grassroots based, and based on individual county needs (i.e. Might not have the world’s largest Sheep program in a coastal county that is much more concerned with Marine issues). And in regards to the argument of 4-H vs. FFA…both are wonderful organizations, and I was a member of both growing up. FFA however, is an AGRICULTURAL organization, 4-H is a YOUTH DEVELOPMENT organization.

  13. Austin Scott says:

    4-H is not about agriculture, it is about youth development. Approximately half of the students come from the rural communities and half from the urban areas. It serves over 150,000 youths from every county in this state. This is the way education should be done.

    http://www.georgia4h.org/public/more/news/gacloverleaf/CloverleafFY2008.pdf

    P.S. More to come tomorrow about 4-H. In the meantime, don’t talk bad about farmers with your mouth full, but take time to learn about 4-H.

  14. Progressive Dem says:

    As a boy I participated in 4H. There is nothing wrong with goals of the organization. But it serves 155,000 kids in a state with 9.5 million people. That’s 1.6% of the population. If you separate the budget into “musts” and “wants”, 4H is not a “must”.

    To solidify my elitist title, I might suggest that 4H begin to establish a dues system. It is only fair that those 155,000 kids and their parents pay a larger share of the program costs.

    • polisavvy says:

      Unless it has changed, my parents paid dearly for all of the extra activities that I participated in — it was not funded by the state. The County Home Extension Service people were the advisers and they were already on the State’s payroll. Working with 4-H was part of their job.

    • janna says:

      Yikes, do you think 4H kids get a free ride? I am afraid to tally up the checks I write for 4H activities, I’d have a heart attack. I am more than happy to pay as my daughter is benefiting greatly from the organization, but I do resent your implication that it is free.

      • Progressive Dem says:

        4-H is not self-supporting. It relies upon Georgia tax dollars. I never said it was free. I said parents will need to pay a larger share of the costs. The link that Rep Scott supplied says that members do not pay dues. See below for direct text taken from Georgia 4-H report. As I also said below, ” No doubt many of the special activities are already funded with parental support, and kids with less [finacial resources] receive assistance.”

      • polisavvy says:

        Ain’t that the truth. I have written checks over the years as well (as did my parents). I am concerned that people seem to be diminishing the importance of 4-H and what it represents. They have apparently never been involved or had a child or family member involved. It’s a very worthwhile organization and should be kept.

    • And how many in the state are current AND former members because that is the real effect of 4-H.

      As far as paying an activity fee for 4-H, then that might be acceptable. Many other participatory groups require an activity fee, but I’m pretty sure that most 4-H parents already incur costs in supporting their children.

    • Provocateur says:

      Amazing that a Dem is talking about cutting-out education and youth development opportunities.

  15. Progressive Dem says:

    PS
    From Mr. Scott’s link above… “Also, in the tough economic times,
    4-H provides opportunities for families at low cost. 4-H requires no dues. 4-H’ers do not need uniforms. We extend opportunities with scholarships.” No doubt many of the special activities are already funded with parental support, and kids with less receive assistance.

    I would also say that you are contradicting yourself with this statement: “it was not funded by the state. The County Home Extension Service people were the advisers and they were already on the State’s payroll. “

    • polisavvy says:

      If you would look at my post more carefully, you would see that I said, “Unless it has changed, my parents paid dearly for all of the extra activities that I participated in — it was not funded by the state.” I am 55 years old; therefore, that was a few years ago when I was involved in 4-H. I don’t see how it’s a contradiction if I said “Unless it has changed. . .”

        • polisavvy says:

          True, but the Extension Service people are already state employees. They are in every county in the state and are there not just for 4-H. They provide services to the communities. They aid residents on a whole host of subjects/topics/problems. (I use them for soil analysis each year before planting my garden). I am saying that their work with 4-H is part of their “job description,” unless things have changed.

          • concernedgacitizen says:

            In Extension, Agents have different job responsibilities- generally an Agent is either an Ag/Natural Resources, Family and Consumer Science Agent, or a 4-H Youth Development Agent.

  16. richie.rashad says:

    I like Austin Scott and he senses what a disaster the Republican leadershiop is leading the party to by cutting the University System by one third. Think about it – cutting GA Tech and UGA by one third of their budget. Good bye GOP control of Georgia!

  17. foray says:

    These cuts will not happen-

    The cuts to 4-H are not the problem- its the extension service cuts with the 1000+ employees that will be devastating

    No doubt there is need for extension reform- but this is not the way to do it and the leaders in the General Assembly and Regents know this

  18. sisteryuyu says:

    Never thought I would hear that the powers to be thought 4-H in Georgia would need to be cut from the budget. As a child growing up in the 60’s and 70’s 4-H helped mold my life and career. I am active in my community due to the leadership training I received as a 4-Her. I am now a certified public accountant in southwest Georgia partly due to the projects and activities I participated in 4-H. Almost every aspect of my personal and professional life was influenced by my 4-H participation. Help 4-H if you can!

  19. Capt. Jack Sparrow says:

    Are there no PRIVATE clubs/organizations that provide leadership, education or character development to the same age group either through the schools or afterschool?

    Offhand I can think of: VOCA, DECA, FBLA, FCA, Football, Soccer, Track, Golf, Tennis, Wrestling, Baseball, Basketball, Swimming, Softball, Cheerleading, Band, Chorus, Beta Club, National Honor Society, Model UN, French Club, German Club, Spanish Club, Drama Club, Art Club, Interact, Key Club, SADD, Yearbook Staff, Mock Trial, Debate Club, Student Goverment, TARs, Math Team, Chess Club, Technology Club, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Boys State, Gay Straight Alliance, JROTC, Jr. Civitan, etc.

    Some of these are provided through the schools and others are funded from other organizations. It also doesn’t take into account youth/recreation league sports, church youth groups, ballet, dance, music lessons, etc. that parents provide for their kids outside of school.

    My question is how many clubs/organizations/activities are enough? Especially if my tax dollars are having to pay for them.

    • concernedgacitizen says:

      4-H is the only Youth Development organization of the Land Grant University System, and is the only research-based youth development organization. As such, many of the fore-mentioned youth activities you mentioned used 4-H research findings in developing programs. You can read more on the Tufts University 4-H study online at: http://ase.tufts.edu/iaryd/researchPositive4H.htm

      Cutting 4-H doesn’t just cut “activities”, but cuts this research which will continue to increase the effectiveness of any other youth programs.

  20. polisavvy says:

    In case anyone is interested in a few of the salaries at the University of Georgia, I found this in the Tifton Gazette: “The information shows that Adams’s 2009 salary was $607,417.98 and his 2008 salary was $595,487.04, representing an increase of 2 percent. A professor of plant biology stationed in Athens received an increase in salary from $255,129.18 in 2008 to $264,162.18 in 2009, representing more than an 8 percent increase. Stephen Baginski, a professor of accounting with the USG, made $270,982.91 in 2008 and received a 26.18 percent raise to $341,928.51 for 2009, according to the report.”

    Someone needs to justify why the University is wanting to raise the tuition of students and cut 4-H and whittle down the county extension offices, while still making these type of increases for some personnel.

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