Did you happen to listen to or read Governor Deal’s ‘State of the State’ the other night? If you haven’t, you can read the transcript here or watch the speech here. It was interjected with repeated applause, ovations and cheers as the Governor spoke. And, it’s propositions we’re quite spendy.
Much appreciation goes to the Georgia General Assembly who balanced the budget in 2011 and funded many essential Georgia programs. Appreciation is the keyword. Not applause, not praise, not commendation. We are SUPPOSED to have a balanced budget. That’s is the job of the legislature: to ensure efficiency (as well as transparency, accountability and legitimacy) and delegate good use of our tax dollars. That being said, it’s great to hear that the rainy day fund increased 183% to $328 million and that in 2012, 10% of Georgia programs will begin working off a zero-based budget. (Why it’s only 10%, I’m not sure…I don’t know how any organization or business DOESN’T work off zero-based budgeting, but I’m not in charge).
That being said, I question a lot of the spending proposed for this year.
-$20 million for the need-based one percent program (1. The title is quite the oxymoron, and 2. For the one millionth time, Education is not a right).
-$111.3 million for enrollment efforts at technical colleges & universities. (People know what college is. So what is an enrollment EFFORT? Also, I don’t like efforts, I like execution when we are talking about implementation of hard-earned tax dollars.)
-$146 million to support enrollment efforts in K-12 (Isn’t schooling mandatory until age16? Maybe enrollment efforts aren’t the right words, but I’m not keen on spending money to promote something that is already obviously mandatory).
-$55.8 million to fund salary increases for teachers K-12
-Supplemental grants of an undescribed amount to support charter schools in an Amended budget and in 2013.
-$46.7 million for deepening the Port of Savannah to improve both transportation and infrastructure.
-$10 million for Accountability Courts to lower recidivism rates in the criminal justice system. (How? Again, what’s the cost of implementing this?)
I can appreciate the efforts to rectify the failing school systems across the state and to try and improve the overall quality of the State, but where is the data that shows how this money will help? And how much will it cost to implement new programs? What about oversight to ensure efficiency? Will we need more state employees for that? I’m not a fan. As I become more frugal in my personal life, I become more frustrated with spending on the local and state level (I have temporarily given up on the federal level).
And another thing… a true pet peeve of mine is praising and applauding our legislators and executive officers. I flashed back to a recent event where Johnny Isakson spoke. He received a standing ovation and people were chanting his name, defending him as he was being questioned by other constituents. Why stand? Why clap? Why treat them like celebrities? WE elected THEM. THEY work for US. It is a privilege to serve and they should thank the people for the opportunity to do so.