A dog-gone mess

Ev­ery time our gov­ern­ment starts mess­ing with priv­i­taz­ing and dereg­u­lat­ing ser­vices, ru­n­away greed is fol­lowed by un­bri­dled chaos.

The Covington News - - News -

Ge­or­gia has one of the largest and most vi­o­lent prison pop­u­la­tions in the coun­try, yet the state — in its haste to try to bal­ance an in­sanely op­ti­mistic bud­get in a re­ces­sion — has cut prison guards’ pay to just four days a week. Some prison guards al­ready are among the low­est-com­pen­sated state em­ploy­ees.

In at least one unit of the state uni­ver­sity sys­tem, Ken­ne­saw State, of­fi­cials an­nounced that stu­dents would be re­quired to pay an ad­di­tional $400 a se­mes­ter for meal tick­ets for a din­ing hall that has not even been built. When the stu­dent body threat­ened to break out pitch­forks and torches, the ad­min­is­tra­tion backed off.

Th­ese are just two mi­nor ex­am­ples of what your state gov­ern­ment is do­ing within our bor­ders. It is not “Drill, baby, drill” in our nonoil pro­duc­ing state; it’s “Cut, baby, cut.”

If you buy into the op­ti­mistic sce­nario of­fered by the gov­er­nor’s of­fice, Ge­or­gia faces a $1.6 bil­lion bud­get short­fall.

If you be­lieve non­par­ti­san bud­get an­a­lysts like Alan Es­sig, Ge­or­gia will be lucky to es­cape a $2 bil­lion deficit — or, put an­other way, a short­fall amount­ing to 10 per­cent of the state bud­get.

To para­phrase Sarah Palin, we’ve got a dog-gone mess on our hands.

This is not the first time that an ex­it­ing gov­er­nor left his suc­ces­sor a fi­nan­cial knot to un­tan­gle.

Back in the 1970s, Gov. Ge­orge Bus­bee was forced to tighten the bud­get be­cause Gov. Jimmy Carter left a few headaches be­hind. In the 1990s, Gov. Zell Miller had to sweep up be­hind Gov. Joe Frank Har­ris.

Gov. Sonny Per­due’s folks blame the flood of red ink on for­mer Gov. Roy Barnes. That doesn’t quite fly. Barnes ex­ited the Capi­tol six years ago and left Sonny a hefty rainy-day sur­plus in case the econ­omy turned sour. Six years later, it did, and the sur­plus has been drained to next to noth­ing.

In ad­di­tion, Per­due has two more years — and at least two more leg­isla­tive ses­sions — to serve.

He’s al­ready chopped $1.5 bil­lion out of pub­lic school bud­gets, forc­ing at least 100 school dis­tricts to raise taxes to main­tain even min­i­mum stan­dards of ed­u­ca­tion.

Traf­fic con­ges­tion is so bad in parts of our state that Sonny’s ad­vis­ers are toy­ing with the idea of pri­va­tiz­ing the high­ways. Puleeeze don’t even think about any­thing like that.

Ev­ery time our gov­ern­ment starts mess­ing with pri­va­tiz­ing and dereg­u­lat­ing ser­vices, ru­n­away greed is fol­lowed by un­bri­dled chaos. Like it or not, it seems that the only thing worse than gov­ern­ment is no gov­ern­ment.

See nat­u­ral gas, air­lines and banks for starters.

Per­due also con­tin­ues to out­source state jobs. The hot-tar-and­feath­ers crowd ought to check that out. We suf­fer enough job­less­ness without hir­ing folks in In­dia and the Philip­pines to fix our com­put­ers, check our taxes and read our MRIs.

Re­tired teach­ers are tak­ing it on the chin from Per­due for lob­by­ing against his bill to al­low ven­ture cap­i­tal­ists and other spec­u­la­tors to in­vest in their re­tire­ment sys­tem. Hang in there, sis­ters and broth­ers, bet­ter days are bound to come — some­where around Jan­uary 2011 when a new regime moves into the Gold Dome.

Un­til then, keep your fin­gers crossed that the GOP-owned Leg­is­la­ture doesn’t try to im­peach the Repub­li­can gov­er­nor. Why, you ask?

To Per­due’s ev­er­last­ing credit, he sees House Speaker Glenn “Romeo” Richardson for what he is: a tyrant without an ounce of judg­ment who has in­tim­i­dated his fel­low law­mak­ers into let­ting him stay in of­fice.

As a re­sult, Richardson & Co. de­spise Per­due and are de­ter­mined to trip him up, no mat­ter what he tries. In by­gone days, law­mak­ers worked closely with the gov­er­nor, no mat­ter whom, to solve bud­get prob­lems so the state could con­tinue to move for­ward.

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