Rep. Tommy Benton can take his job and — keep it. I wouldn’t have it.
Benton and I hold divergent views on political issues, so we’ve had some spirited conversations. But I feel sorry for him, given the choices he’ll have to make in this legislative session.
I don’t have empathy for Republicans, and normally I’d be the first to argue against some of Gov. Sonny Perdue’s proposed budget cuts — eliminating school nurses, for example — that Benton may ultimately have to vote for.
It’s damned if you do and damned if you don’t not just for Benton, but the entire Georgia legislature. It may be that Democrats will position themselves to vote against every budget reduction likely to pass so they can gain political advantage, but you can’t cut $2 billion from the Georgia budget without hurting people.
The legislature just has to figure out which people get hurt.
If you eliminate the school nurses, you save $30 million. You lay off dedicated health professionals, leave a few kids who desperately need the nurses’ services without and you send kids home more frequently, disrupting their parents’ work.
Or, you can fund the nurses and cut some other group of state employees; or, as the legislature will likely do, pass the buck and force local school systems to make the decision.
That’s $30 million. There’s only $1.87 billion more to cut.
You can get a quarter of that by eliminating the funding for $428 million in “taxpayer relief” grants that show up as a credit on your property tax bills. That credit was already calculated into your 2008 bills, so if the state does not fund it either local taxing authorities will have to absorb the loss or you’ll get a second tax bill. That’s $1 million damage to the Jackson County schools alone.
So, the General Assembly can get 25 percent of its reduction with one stroke of the pen, but all it’s accomplished is to pass the responsibility back to local governments — who would face the wrath of taxpayers.
Benton knows that’s not fair, but he’s still got to come up with $1.9 billion in reductions.
Something has to go. However the deficit is closed, employees will be laid off, citizens will lose vital services and legislators will catch hell.
Benton, the governor and other elected officials are on the hot seat because they’ve got to balance their budgets, a task difficult during good times and lethal when the economy fails. We can debate their choices but none of us could trim Georgia’s budget without inciting the same kind of angst.
The question isn’t how much to cut, it’s what to cut — and who gets hurt. I’m glad I don’t have to make those decisions.
Here's an idea for those in the "hot seat"...an idea called the Fair Tax. I'm well aware that this wouldn't fix all our problems but it would give power back to the people and cut down on our already massive government. Giving power back to the people and putting money back in our pockets. Fairtax.org explains it in greater detail. The Fair Tax (not the Flat Tax) is supported mostly by republicans because it takes so much power away from democrats. I ask those who do not have much knowledge about the Fair Tax to study it with an open mind and see for yourself the many benefits of this cause...like shutting down the IRS and never paying another cent in income taxes!