One of the biggest battles Republicans and Democrats have had this session has been over HB541. Rep. Jan Jones’ bill would allow for a referendum in Fulton to double the homestead exemption to $60,000. The bill finally obtained the necessary 120 voted in the House last week and is now being considered by the Senate.
The AJC’s Jim Galloway has an article in tomorrow’s paper about the fight and Fulton’s threat of cutting money to Grady Hospital. Fulton currently provides $50 million to Grady to help pay for indigent care.
Fulton County’s indigent contract with Grady expires at the end of this year. “As we renegotiate, we may not choose to do what we’ve done in the past,” Eaves said. “We may walk away from it, or we may change it greatly. But that doesn’t mean people who are uninsured are going to stop going to the hospital.”
Rep. Edward Lindsey has responded to Fulton County Commission Chairman John Eaves’ threats with the comment below:
Challenging the First Rule of Bureaucracies – Self Preservation
The AJC’s political columnist Jim Galloway in a piece written for Sunday lays out Fulton County Chairman John Eaves’ argument that an increase in the Fulton County homestead exemption will force cuts in services to Grady Hospital. Sorry but that just is not so.
Observers of politics know that the first law of bureaucracies on any level of government is self preservation. In order to accomplish this in the face of needed budget reductions, they will always seek out the most popular or needed programs and claim that they are the first ones to be cut. As alluded to in Galloway’s article, we are presently seeing this on the federal level with the closing of White House tours to the public. On the state level, we saw this a few years back when needed fiscal cuts led the Georgia Board of Regents to threaten to slash 4-H.
I ask people to not fall for these Pollyanna screams of desperation. Fulton County is over 90% municipalized by population. Therefore, it is right and reasonable to reduce the footprint of the county government and expect the cities to take on larger roles. That said, there will still be sufficient revenue available for certain truly county wide services such as the court system, the libraries, and – yes — Grady Hospital.
For years, the people of Fulton County have been clamoring for reforms but their efforts have been thwarted. I chaired a study committee in 2007,which set out a series of proposed bi partisan changes that were shot down by the Fulton County Government’s stranglehold at the time on the local Fulton County legislative delegation. This year with a new reform minded delegation in place, we are finally able to move forward.
The proposed homestead exemption referendum contained in HB 541 is critical to changing the course of Fulton County, and I am confident our colleagues in the Georgia Senate will follow the State House and also reject the stale wailings from the entrenched status quo forces in the county government. When they do, the voters will finally be able to chart a new reform minded course.
Representative Edward Lindsey
Georgia House Republican Majority Whip