FY 2008 600 million dollar deficit…

FY 2009 3 billion dollar deficit…

FY 2010 projected 1 billion dollar deficit…

How long will it take Georgia’s leaders to respond?…

an eternity.

Over the last three years, Georgia has faced a budget crisis.  Some have attributed this to a spending problem.  Others have called it a revenue problem.  It is a leadership problem.

Allan Essig over at the GPBI says we need a better tax system. Mr. Essig is a smart man and it is true that we’ve given many senseless tax breaks that have had no benefit to the State of Georgia; raising taxes won’t make things any better.  Besides no elected official will do it.

What our budget crisis shows is a failure of leadership. Look at the FY 10 budget, the only budget where the legislature has actually cut spending, and you will continue to see mismanagement of our state’s fiscal resources.

First, there was less cutting than was reported. Remember our legislature gnashing their teeth over the budget?  Comments like,” This is going to hurt” and “We will have to get close to the bone.”  Well that was more like when your 3 year old screams he is going to die from that whooping you just inflicted on him. The real numbers look like this.

$800 million dollars in actual cuts
$428 million dollars by eliminating the HTRG (property tax increase)
$500 million in reserve funds

and the kicker

$1.4 billion from Federal State Fiscal Stabilization Fund.

Not so close to the bone as one might think.  Remember GO FISH. It is still fully funded.  Several other pet projects still in there too.

The most shocking thing is the amount of debt service that we have inflicted during this recent crisis.  It currently stands at 6.5%.  (6.5% of 18 billion dollars)  Care to see what that looks like?  Try just a little over 1.2 billion dollars.  Now the GOParanoid are quick to point out that this is just 1% higher than the last democratic Governor’s budget and that when adjusted for inflation and population…yadda yadda yadda.  Truth is that 1% of 18 billion is a hell of a lot more than 1% of 14 billion dollars, and if you ever hear someone want to adjust some figures get ready to be lied to.

Can this problem be fixed?  Sure.  All we need is zero-based budgeting, priority spending, and a revenue system that works.  Good luck getting that with the present legislature and governor.  It was encouraging to see 48 other House Members that joined Alan Powell to vote against FY 10 budget.  These legislators warned of the very things that are happening now.  Hopefully, someone will start listening soon.