Secretary Of State Kemp On Closing The State Archives

Secretary of State Kemp has passed along the following Op-Ed explaining his decision to close the State Archives to meet a 3% mandated cut that each agency must find.  We’ll give him this time in his own words. I’ll have a bit more to say about it next week.

Any budget, no matter if it is a family budget or a state budget, reflects our priorities. These priorities are not based solely on wants or needs, but rather on what can be afforded. During these difficult economic times, the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office simply cannot afford to keep the State Archives open to the public.

The Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget (OPB) instructed my office to reduce our budget by 3% ($732,626) for the coming year. While this cut is steep, it reflects only a small portion of the millions of dollars in reductions we have already absorbed over the past several years. Our Agency budget has been cut by more than 25% from $32.1 million dollars in 2008 to $23.7 million dollars for the coming year – an $8.4 million dollar decrease. To put this in staffing terms, our Agency has reduced its workforce by 38%, from 350 to 216 employees.

As Secretary of State, it is my job to ensure that budgetary decisions strategically reflect our highest priorities and impact as few Georgians as possible.

Federal government requirement prevent us from considering cuts to the budget of the State Elections Division. We cannot and will not jeopardize secure, accessible, and fair elections in Georgia.

Our Securities Division is charged with protecting Georgians from financial fraud. Because of increased responsibilities from the Dodd-Frank Act and the fact that the Division’s budget has been reduced from $1,804,043 to $833,891 since 2008, any further reduction would leave Georgia’s citizens vulnerable.

The Corporations Division processes hundreds of thousands of registrations for Georgia businesses and produced $44 million dollars in fees for the state last year. If the Division’s budget of $1.3 million was cut and staff was reduced, the wait times for corporation filings and renewals would increase.

Nowhere have budget cuts been felt more by the citizens of Georgia than in the Professional Licensing Boards Division (PLB). This division protects Georgians by ensuring almost 500,000 qualified individuals are licensed to work.

Because of past reductions and increased workloads, Georgians are now waiting, on average, five times longer to renew a professional license and more than three months for a new license to be granted. Last year in the PLB call center, one out of every four callers was unable to reach an operator. Further cuts would reduce efficiency, reduce revenue, and lengthen the time it takes to get Georgians working.

The Secretary of State’s Office is unique in that last year it generated $81.5 million dollars in fees, but it receives a state appropriation of only $23.7 million dollars to perform the duties of the office. This is less than a third of what we take in, and this unfortunate reality means that only funded functions can be maintained.

It is my sincere desire for budget conditions to improve so that the 3% cut would be eliminated or an additional state appropriation can be made so that Georgians can once again have improved access to the State Archives.

13 comments

  1. James says:

    “Any budget, no matter if it is a family budget or a state budget, reflects our priorities.” So while you are no longer allowed access to the State Archives, rest assured we will continue to waste millions on getting a Voter ID law passed, lest those sneaky blacks and mexicans continue to vote Democrat.

    • Charlie says:

      Your comments are often out of place and ill-received because they consistantly reflect your hyper-partisan national world view instead of making any attempt to actually understand what is going on here in Georgia politics, which is what we discuss around here.

      Kemp has left you much low hanging fruit in the above piece, but you start with racist and inflamatory rhetoric that has been proven to have no basis in reality.

      You’re well into troll status. It’s up to you whether you wish to join the rest of us in discussion, remain a troll, or be gone altogether.

      • wicker says:

        I don’t know, Charlie. While James may be a partisan troll in general, this particular rejoinder struck me as a pretty good satirical shot across the bow.

  2. bgsmallz says:

    “The Secretary of State’s Office is unique in that last year it generated $81.5 million dollars in fees, but it receives a state appropriation of only $23.7 million dollars to perform the duties of the office.”

    Grover’s Beard approves of raising fees and redirecting them to the general fund. Way to go, everybody! You didn’t raise taxes. Derp.

    • Chuck Martin says:

      “The Secretary of State’s Office is unique in that last year it generated $81.5 million dollars in fees, but it receives a state appropriation of only $23.7 million dollars to perform the duties of the office.”

      With due respect to Secretary Kemp, the SOS’s Office “collects” fees. Certainly, one would hope that the SOS can be efficient enough to spend less in the collection process than the entire fee collected. By doing so there is money left over to fund other services required to support the very businesses, professions, and citizens that pay the fee.

      We can certainly debate the justification each and every fee charged, and we should, but to think an organization gets to spend the entire fee it collects in the collection process seems self defeating.

      Look I know that Secretary Kemp and SOS’s Office have a tough job and I want to be supportive of their efforts but the rationalizing of spending based on revenue collected is, in my opinion, not the way to justify a budget expenditure.

  3. Jackster says:

    Something tells me the license fees for that fancy new election website could pay for some services @ the archives….

    So let me get this straight – only the revenue producing areas will survive, because we want to keep the fees coming in. Sure – I mean it’s what companies do, companies that eventually then are hurt because their product and support starts to diminish.

    • NoTeabagging says:

      “the wait times for corporation filings and renewals would increase.” BS!
      Most of this is handled online by the filer and updated automatically.

  4. seenbetrdayz says:

    What exactly is classified as ‘archives’? I wouldn’t think it would cost millions of dollars to maintain a website, if that’s all there is to it. It’s not like those past results are going to change, so I wouldn’t think you’d have to pay anyone to keep up with them. If they actually had a job where someone’s only purpose was to log in every now and then and make sure nothing in the archives changed, then yeah, that bureaucratic job probably needed to be cut, lol.

    As for the PLB, yeah, it kind of sucks at the moment. Apparently, it took two weeks for a copy of my driver’s license to make it from the desk downstairs to the office upstairs. I didn’t mind using the elevator and dropping it off myself, but I didn’t think it would have taken quite that long.

  5. taylor says:

    The state’s problem with implementing cuts is demonstrated in this posting. Where is the discussion about the government responsibilities/functions that have been eliminated since 2008? It’s only about decreased spending for the same functions. At some point (and we’re past it), the General Assembly must pass laws that eliminate responsibilities placed on state agencies. If the public wants a 25% reduction in agency funding, it must be willing to reduce the responsibilities that the agency is charged with. Funding cuts lead to efficiencies – only to a point.

    Eventually, the General Assembly must be willing to re-think what the government can do. (I would have expected this 3-4 years ago.) Each session, new legislation results in a net increase in government responsibilities. I challenge anyone to find a net decrease in anything other than appropriations since 2008.

  6. seenbetrdayz says:

    I wonder if the declining value of the dollar has anything to do with it. It would make sense that if family budgets are affected by a weakening dollar, then local and state government budgets would be too. Politicians at the state and local level are forced between a rock and a hard place. Either they raise taxes to compensate for inflation, or they must cut services.

    I wonder if these critters at the local/state levels will ever stop ‘falling on their swords’ due to monetary policy they have no control over. You’d think more of them would be angry with their cohorts in D.C. for putting them in this situation year after year.

    • Scott65 says:

      There is no appreciable inflation currently. A lower value dollar makes exports more competitive overseas. Georgia has lots of industries and agribusiness that export. Comparing a family budget to a government is comparing apples to computer speakers (no comparison). A lower dollar without inflation really doesn’t effect anyone on the local level because prices remain stable (energy isnt included in core inflation) or fall (hopefully not …dont want deflation). Your dollar buys as much locally as it did…only thing is if tourists come here…they have better buying power…so tourism increases as well in a low dollar/low inflation scenario

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