Thousands of Georgia teachers and other school workers — nurses, cafeteria supervisors, bus drivers and custodians — are losing their jobs due to another round of budget cuts. Salary cuts and furloughs are the new normal. Communities across Georgia are taking a big hit from the cuts. As one economist put it, “It is folly not to recognize the impact on the broader economic recovery.” Sarah Beth Gehl presents a few solutions to the school budget crisis.
The 2010 Georgia Legislature took some positive steps to address the state’s $5 billion budget deficit, such as passing bills to raise almost $375 million in new revenues and to improve tax collections and transparency. But it also approved long-term tax cuts ($624 million a year when fully implemented) that will shift the cost of government services onto middle-class and low-income Georgians, says the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute.
New lobbyists soon will help MARTA look for the state’s help in closing a projected $130 million budget deficit. The transit agency’s chief legislative overseer refuses to meet with them, but MARTA officials seem OK with that. They’re after bigger game. The lobbyists’ pitch to MARTA, led by Ellen Williams Reynolds, offers a plan to connect with key House and Senate Republicans. And the lobbying team includes a former executive of the Georgia GOP and the husband of state Human Resources Commissioner B.J. Reynolds.
MARTA hired a lobbyist Tuesday, moments after a union official accused state Rep. Jill Chambers of trying to force a state takeover of the agency. MARTA’s board fears a projected $80 million deficit will result in disastrous service cuts without state relief. “If we don’t get something done, a year from now we’re not going to be providing anything you could reasonably call transit service,” Chairman Michael Walls said. UPDATE: New lobbyist Bernard Reynolds will have to earn his keep, judging from Chambers’ latest e-mail today.
MARTA’s general manager and its chief legislative overseer locked horns today over the transit agency’s plan to spend up to $400,000 on outside lobbyists. Then, state Rep. Jill Chambers butted heads with a member of her MARTA Oversight Committee. Chambers grilled MARTA officials this morning about several million dollars in spending that she regarded as unnecessary. When Sen. Doug Stoner objected to her tone, Chambers cut off his microphone. “I’m very disappointed in us as a committee,” Stoner said. “We’re playing games.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – May 28, 2009 CONTACT: Andrea Coleman, 404.848.3982 or Cara Hodgson 404.848.5157 MARTA BEGINS Fiscal Year 2010 BUDGET APPROVAL PROCESS Staff to Present Budget Recommendations to Board of Directors’ Business Management Committee Meeting Today MARTA staff will present its recommendations for the Fiscal Year 2010 budget proposal to its board of […]