Let’s Help Governor Deal! (No, really.)

December 16, 2010 8:43 am

by Mike Hassinger · 38 comments

In a speech to the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce yesterday, Governor-elect Nathan Deal warned of having to reduce the size of Georgia’s government. Apparently Georgia has some pretty high personnel costs and, according to Deal: “…we may not be able to justify those in the public sector any longer.”  Georgia’s incoming budget cuts spokesman added this:

“What do you expect? For crying out loud, this economy sucks! We’re at 10% unemployment, and we can’t just print money like those Hopey-McChange idiots in Washington. If you have any bright ideas Mr. Know-it-all blogger, let’s hear them!”

You know what they say about opinions, and Peach Pundit has no shortage in that regard. So let’s pitch in and offer the legislature and the Governor-elect our suggestions for cutting government and balancing the State budget. Here’s a list of state agencies. Here’s where you can find the salaries and travel reimbursements paid to employees of the State of Georgia and employees of local boards of education. Offer your suggestions in the comments and we’ll make sure the constructive advice is relayed to the Governor.

My own helpful hint: That $454 million we borrowed from the feds? How about we not pay that back? They’d only waste it and besides, they can just print more.

B Balz December 16, 2010 at 9:13 am

Thanks Mike!

Read it and count all joy: So said Govenor-elect Nathan Deal:

START ARTICLE:

“We have become a society in which … we believe it’s easier for the government to pay our tithe than for us to do it ourselves,” he said. “And I think that’s the kind of attitude we need to continue to try to reverse.”

In his address, Deal also alerted businesses that the state is in arrears to the federal government for $454 million in loans to its Unemployment Trust Fund. That money is due for repayment next November.

The consequences to businesses is that if the state does not make timely payments on interest and the principal, federal law begins payment penalties for employers.

Deal’s speech drew rousing applause from the business community attending. ”

Above quotes courtesy Mr. Patrick Fox/AJC:

http://www.ajc.com/news/georgia-politics-elections/deal-state-government-workforce-778417.html

END OF ARTICLE

I hope some of that ‘serious work’ includes a genuine effort to be more objective regarding the new Governor.

Mike Hassinger December 16, 2010 at 9:27 am

What are you talking about? Where have I not been “objective” regarding the new Governor? He didn’t break the economy, and I don’t blame him for Georgia’s financial situation.

B Balz December 16, 2010 at 10:35 am

Not you, Mike. You have been VERY objective. Regret I was not more clear, should read:

“I hope some FPP’ers do ‘serious work’ to be more objective regarding the new Governor.”

Carried over from anohter post.

Buzz Brockway December 16, 2010 at 1:06 pm

B.Balz is correct, Georgia employers would pay the penalty if we fail to pay back the money we borrowed from the Feds for unemployment insurance.

If Congress wants to help out State governments, rather than send us more stimulus funds with strings attached, why not forgive these “loans?”

B Balz December 16, 2010 at 1:30 pm

For clarity, Rep. Elect Brockway (!) I quoted the point you just referenced from Gov. Elect Deal.

Jeff December 16, 2010 at 9:27 am

I’ve been working on the numbers for one department for the past couple of days. I’ll try to have that post up before leaving for a week in North Ga Saturday. :D

Essentially: targeted cuts over across the board cuts

Three Jack December 16, 2010 at 9:49 am

consolidate. it’s time to merge some counties and school districts which will allow the elimination of many government jobs.

Jeff December 16, 2010 at 9:54 am

Counties and School Districts are distinct, and I believe that is at a Constitutional level in Ga.

Now, if you wanted to argue for the consolidation of many *cities* and Counties, I think you may have an argument there. Albany/Dougherty Consolidation has been an issue of the past decade, and I’ve even seen rumblings that some would like to consolidate even small County Seats like Leesburg.

At the County level, I know the Ga Constitution calls for every County to have a Sheriff, but I’m not sure which other local officials are Constitutionally required. (Any not Constitutionally required could be eliminated by simply enacting new legislation to replace any existing legislation that requires them.)

Three Jack December 16, 2010 at 10:53 am

jeff, i should have been more clear in my remark. i meant that we should look at consolidating the 159 counties along with doing the same with the 180 school districts…maybe reduce both numbers by 25% leaving around 120 counties and 135 school districts. i know the reasons why this has not happened in the past, but under the current situation, it would seem to be worth looking into it again.

LoyaltyIsMyHonor December 16, 2010 at 11:28 am

It would take a true Statesman to tackle that idea. Does Deal strike you as a statesman? BTW, I totally agree with you 3 jack.

Three Jack December 16, 2010 at 12:56 pm

loyalty, there is no chance that deal is the man for such a tough job. i bet 434 representatives in dc don’t even know he’s gone.

the only way this ever gains traction is by way of a ‘blue ribbon study committee’ recommending it as part of their findings. then the pols will have the cover they seek to tackle it. maybe the speaker can appoint such a committee during the next session (wishful thinking i know).

LoyaltyIsMyHonor December 16, 2010 at 3:45 pm

“I bet 434 representatives in dc don’t even know he’s gone.”

I nearly fell out of my chair in laughter after reading that! Truer words have never been said on here. :)

John Konop December 16, 2010 at 10:17 am

1) Eliminate the state pension system for workers under 40 or less than 10 year service, replace it with a 401k plan.

2) Have each service area create a budget and balance it based on service fees based on usage and or direct tax revenue ie splost.

3) Education:

A) Cross utilize faculties for example use high school buildings for night classes for colleges instead of building more facilities.
B) Promote joint enrollment (vocational & 4 year college bound) to lower drop out-rate and shorten time span in school and create a more work ready graduates
C) Have all extra curricular activities be revenue neutral
D) Eliminate 10% of administrative budget
E) Roll back wages for by 10% of every employee making more than 6 figures.
F) Promote using volunteers for clerical jobs and teacher helpers.
G) Charge a fuel fee for students who parents have wages above the poverty line.
H) Increase the price on school lunches by 10%
I) Increase class choices by using internet based learner coordinated with the higher education system at the high school.

Just a few ideas!

Jeff December 16, 2010 at 10:32 am

On your education ideas:

a) HS facilities are local, college facilities are State. Doable, but you’d need intergovernmental agreements, and the locals would probably want to be paid. Not as expensive as new buildings, presumably, but not free either.

c) extra curriculars are a local expense, not a State. Need FEWER dictates on locals, not more. If you want more dictates on your locals, dictate via the ballot box.

d) would save SOME on State, probably not as much as you think.

e) for DOE, you’re only talking about 30, MAYBE 50 employees. Just FYI there – and it is also a morale killer. A 10% REDUCTION in pay, even though your performance evals are all solid?? Is that even legal?

f) again, mostly local savings there.

g) you’re talking local savings again, and if they do this more parents will drive their kids to school- necessitating more State expense in maintaining State roadways.

h) again, you’re talking local. Governor handles *State* budget.

i) Def higher State cost for infrastructure, could potentially be paid by user fees or locals paying State for service.

John Konop December 16, 2010 at 10:48 am

At the end of the day the state and federal government will provides less money anyway you slice it.. The local district like it or not will have to make the cuts.

Ramblinwreck December 16, 2010 at 10:46 am

John,
I agree with many of these but on one there is a flaw.

Your item (h) says raise school lunches by 10%. In many counties the bulk of kids pay ZERO for lunch so the increase would be only on those who can afford to pay or who don’t like about income to get free lunches, and breakfast in some cases.

The place I’d start is with higher education and consolidating some of the facilities. It appears that the state has tried to put some Jr. College or remote campus of a 4 year campus on every street corner. If students want an education driving a few miles farther to an existing facility would save the state money and weed out the students who aren’t serious. I’d also drop some of the superfluous administrative positions that Jeff mentioned in another post. I’d start cutting at the top instead of the bottom.

John Konop December 16, 2010 at 10:53 am

RW,

… Your item (h) says raise school lunches by 10%. In many counties the bulk of kids pay ZERO for lunch so the increase would be only on those who can afford to pay or who don’t like about income to get free lunches, and breakfast in some cases….

A good point in districts with high poverty rates it would not help.

…..The place I’d start is with higher education and consolidating some of the facilities. It appears that the state has tried to put some Jr. College or remote campus of a 4 year campus on every street corner. If students want an education driving a few miles farther to an existing facility would save the state money and weed out the students who aren’t serious. I’d also drop some of the superfluous administrative positions that Jeff mentioned in another post. I’d start cutting at the top instead of the bottom….

I agree that is why we could cross utilize pre-existing high schools and or shift kids into the new facilities by using joint enrollment. Either way it cuts down on new building expense. And this gets students out of the system faster with real job skills.

Lady Thinker December 17, 2010 at 10:43 pm

Another idea is to offer more online classes to save the cost of driving for college students.

Three Jack December 16, 2010 at 10:55 am

regarding school lunches, the fed now has even more control since s3307 passed. there is an increase in free lunches with the new legislation and easier access to food stamps. you know who to thank for this happening since it has been covered in previous threads.

ACCmoderate December 16, 2010 at 2:55 pm

In regards to item (B), how would promoting joint enrollment lower the dropout rate? Looking at statistics, college-bound kids aren’t very likely to drop out.

John Konop December 16, 2010 at 3:00 pm

ACC if you used it for vocational/JC like beautician school, tech repair, nurses aides…..

Libertarian Chick December 16, 2010 at 8:02 pm

Every kid is “college bound” these days. Then they take remedial classes and 43% of them lose the HOPE.
If we had more joint enrollment and avenues toward graduation, there would be fewer drop outs all the way around. And we would see a better prepared work force.

Lady Thinker December 17, 2010 at 10:49 pm

LC,

If we had more core classes in the basics, reading, writing, math, fewer students would have to take remedial reading, writing, and math classes in college. For example, if students take two of each of these classes now, increase them to four and offer more tutoring before and after school in these subjects. Until kids can do these things in their sleep, we are spinning our wheels and getting nowhere.

How many parents can help their kids with their homework in these subjects?

Libertarian Chick December 18, 2010 at 9:39 am

In high school there is four years of math, four years of English, three total years of social sudies, and three years of science. If the kids struggle in their math, they also take a math support class. Those basics are there. The problem is that the state doesn’t like to see kids fail subjects, so teachers are encouraged to pass them along, even if they fail the CRCT.
Offering options that appeal to the individual students who may not want to go to university is needed. But KC said that all children in Georgia will get a college preparatory curriculum, even if they aren’t interested in college. These are the students that we lose.
Teachers are there to tutor and help. Even if parents are not able to help, they are able to oversee and ensure that the student is trying. I know very few teachers who will turn down a student who is really trying if he asks for help.

Lady Thinker December 19, 2010 at 12:44 am

I agree with your post, however, I think we should go back to the first day of school and double up on the basic three from K through 12.

While it is true that not every student will go to college, some will go to technical colleges, or others may go to trade schools. The basic three are needed in all fields.

No one would want a carpenter who cannot calculate the installation of granite countertops or hardwood floors. OR a plummer who cannot determine pipe fittings based on a metric sysstem.

Just a thought.

Lady Thinker December 17, 2010 at 10:42 pm

John,

I think those could be workable ideas.

Mike Hassinger December 16, 2010 at 11:12 am

Scott Henry’s favorite legislator has what sounds like a good idea: prohibit state agencies and departments from hiring lobbyists.
http://www.legis.ga.gov/legis/2011_12/fulltext/hb15.htm

Scott65 December 16, 2010 at 1:13 pm

Thats a very good and unlikely to fly idea

ricstewart December 16, 2010 at 11:47 am

Deal spokesman says they’re not looking to lay off any state employees.

And the status quo is preserved for another four years.

Scott65 December 16, 2010 at 1:12 pm

You know, I worry that Deal just knows the talking points but has no clue what they mean nor any clue what the implications are. He strikes me more and more as not quite the brightest turnip in the truck. Then again, he cant even get revenue/expense figured out in his personal affairs so I don’t know why he should have a clue about the States.

LoyaltyIsMyHonor December 16, 2010 at 7:53 pm

Really, you’re just figuring that out now?

Why do you think Chris Riley said in front of Federal investigators that he won’t “allow” Deal to go anywhere without him? Riley’s word, not mine. That’s all I need to know about Deal.

Lady Thinker December 17, 2010 at 10:52 pm

Chris Riley does the thinking for him.

Quaker December 16, 2010 at 1:29 pm

Eliminate the state patrol and let local law enforcement take up the slack. The patrol has been underfunded to the point of being nearly useless for years. No one will notice the absence of the relative few officers on the road, especially outside the metro areas, where there may be one officer on day shift only for wide swaths of area.

Lady Thinker December 17, 2010 at 10:57 pm

Quaker,

GSP has the training and expertise to handle vehicular fatalities as well as deaths involving trains, airplanes, helicopters, boats, etc and they get more training in those areas than many of the local agencies outside Metro Atlanta. Most of the troopers work outside Metro Atlanta with larger counties having their own Traffic Specialists Units.

Ken in Eastman December 16, 2010 at 10:06 pm

First, all “scrap” vehicles and machinery from state agencies should go back to the general fund and not back to that agency. This encourages agencies to ask for things they don’t need because they also get additional revenue when they do so.

Second, set up a website that lists “best practices” of state and county governments on cutting expenses. There’s no need to invent the wheel 160 or so times (and then municipal governments can benefit, too).

Third, apply 6 Sigma practices and look at the procedures and delete duplicate services and combining them if possible. That would remove excess employees.

I like John Konop’s ideas, too. The retirement problem needs to be addressed ASAP.

Libertarian Chick December 18, 2010 at 9:44 am

TRS is the only fiscally solvent retirement plan in Georgia. Leave it alone and fix something that is broken.

Joshua Morris December 17, 2010 at 9:26 am

Why has no one mentioned Go Fish?

I think we should audit state-funded agencies (like the Area Agencies for Aging) and possibly set limits on how often certain equipment, such as computers, can be replaced. These items are still being purchased at state expense when not really needed to try to justify future budget requests.

B Balz December 17, 2010 at 9:33 am

It’s a tired old drum, but no less a valid point.

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