Thursday, December 10, 2009

20. Across-the-board cuts. Corruption in practice.

Across-the-board cuts.
Just one more way the culture of corruption in Georgia politics 
continues to steal the people's voice.    

Across-the-board cuts are bad for Georgia.    
They are the easy way out. Requiring little time or effort, they allow legislators to avoid the heavy lifting and leave work early to pursue whatever other interests they deem more important than the people's business. The result is a total abdication of accountability, as legislators pass their responsibility to state agencies. If a constituent tells the politician later that a high-performing program was cut while a low-performing one was kept, the legislator is able to duck responsibility by saying, “I didn’t cut your program. I just said to cut 10%. Some bureaucrat cut your program.” (Or, in other words, “You can’t blame me, and you can’t vote them out.”)

     As DuBose Porter travels around the state,  his common sense ideas for governing and his anti-corruption leadership are gaining popularity. The people of Georgia are finding out that DuBose is the alternative to the corrupt policies that continue to block jobs and keep industry away. As DuBose's message finds larger audiences, others are joining in.
Three recent examples:
  •  Republican leadership killed the "Point of Sale" bill  in committee; now they like it (Blog 17, “Steal my bill, please.”).
  • The current replacement speaker has said he may end the Hawks system (Blog 19, “The most corrupt state in America? Georgia.”).
  • And now, across-the-board cuts, which DuBose has fought against for years, are starting to appear in other candidates’ speeches (see below).

Posted Yesterday: Dec 08, 2009 3:33 PM, by Jennifer Emert (
"I really don't believe in across the board really prioritize our top priorities " said the Secretary of State.*
Given last January: What follows is a speech DuBose gave at a press conference last January (References to across-the-board cuts are in bold.):      

Democratic House Caucus 
Response To the Governor’s State of the State Address 2009
by State Representative DuBose Porter

I am privileged to represent Laurens County in the Georgia House of Representatives and I’m also honored to serve as Leader of the House Democratic Caucus and to represent them here today.
Last year, the Governor presented his state of the state address, and the session began. It was marked by bitter rivalry and what seemed to be partisan politics within the same party. There was no action taken to move forward on transportation, trauma care, or tax reform; additional cuts which amounted to one and a half billion dollars had already been stripped from our schools shifting that financial burden to our local governments and your property taxes; and with no meaningful progress on addressing the coming economic challenges, the session ended just as disjointed as it had begun.

During that session our Democratic House Caucus became the stabilizing factor in Georgia’s state government.

By working together within our party and with others we were able to find a consensus. We in the House came together to pass a transportation bill that would have moved forward on solving one of our state’s most crippling problems. The bill failed in the Senate and when we looked to the Governor for leadership, he was in China.
When gas prices spiraled out of control, we called on the Governor to take bold, dramatic action. To step up to the plate and give Georgians relief by reducing the gas tax. Instead he went to Spain and our families were left here, to take the brunt of higher gas prices from which they still have not recovered.

In September, after seeing August revenue figures, our Democratic House Caucus realized the extent of Georgia’s faltering economy and we called on the Governor to bring us back into session – to give parties on both side of the aisle a chance to roll up our sleeves, fix the problem before it got worse, and do the job the people of this state elected us to do. That call went unheeded.
Because we did not have that session, this week, we began a session that has found our state in an even deeper financial crisis. We would have still had to make some very tough decisions in that special session, but we now find ourselves having to make even tougher decisions in far less time.
To cut an already tight budget while living up to our obligation to keep Georgia safe, healthy, and secure will be a great challenge. We have to make the effort to work together to give Georgians the highest value for every one of their tax dollars.
The Governor has said that he wants to borrow our way out of this crisis, and put our good credit on the line, but we cannot borrow our way out of debt. More debt is not the answer. We must prioritize our budget so that instead of disastrous across-the-board cuts, we make the effort to keep the programs that give the most value and cut the ones that are underperforming.
Georgia’s crisis was created by many factors, but our Democratic House Caucus is ready to bring back the stability by working together to provide the fiscal responsibility our state deserves.
Georgia families knew we were heading for a recession months ago, as did our caucus. Our state government failed to act quickly and efficiently, and now we have a $2 billion hole in this year’s budget.

Our current bleak financial situation points to one thing – a lack of priorities. Parents and teachers are calling for help for our schools, but instead we built boat ramps.

In Georgia today, law enforcement is working overtime to keep us safe, and due to across-the-board cuts our law enforcement officers are stretched almost to the breaking point, but the majority party is building a multi-million dollar horse park in Houston County.
In Perry we are building a fish pond while veterans, who were willing to give their very lives for that land were being evicted from their home. Evicted because in across-the-board cuts, they were not a priority.

The priorities of this administration do not match the values that I know are the values of the Georgia I grew up in and the Georgia I know and love. With across-the-board cuts, there are no priorities.

But we no longer have the time to rehash what led us to this financial crisis, now we must work together to lead our state out of our current economic crisis by using bold new and innovative ideas that will produce a progressive, active legislature, that acts in the best interests of all Georgians.

We did not hear this from the Governor today. There again is no plan for transportation, no funding for education and a new tax on hospitals.
This is a time to work together, across party lines and across the levels of government. To bring our citizens the greatest value for the amount they are able to pay. That will include working with local governments to make sure that our budget crisis doesn’t get passed on them. Our state government cannot continue to shift our obligations to our local governments. An under funded education system with reduced law enforcement is not a state we want to become, just as it will not be a state in which industry wants to locate. We must educate our children and make sure their parents have decent jobs.
In order to enhance our revenue at the state level we must also work with the new Presidential administration and Congress to make sure that Georgia remains on their minds. The incoming Administration in Washington has pledged to do what it can to help families keep their heads above water.
Georgians pay their share to run the federal government, and we must make certain that we get our fair share from our federal government in return.
Currently talk is coming back that, Georgia and Texas are being referred to as the orphan states because our current administration is not playing well with others. The money that comes to our state in the form of a stimulus was our money to begin with and it will keep our state on par with the rest of the county. We too can choose to move forward with America or we can choose to become less prosperous, less educated, less healthy, less safe, and less mobile.

We must not only work with Washington for revenue enhancement, we must manage the cuts we will have to make responsibly.

And, once again I stress that across-the-board budget cuts will not work.

Cutting across-the-board may be the simple answer, but it’s not the right answer.

Some programs can be cut by more than 6%, 8%, or 10%, while some can’t handle a cut that big. This Republican leadership has slashed over one and a half billions from our schools. Education is the one thing we can do that directly puts more people into the workforce. If more people are working, more people are paying taxes and the tax burden becomes less on us all. We simply cannot afford to be this short sighted with our future.

Ask a teacher or a parent – our schools simply cannot handle another across-the-board austerity cut.
We cannot and should not take the easy way out on this complicated issue.
It’s time for our legislature to roll up our sleeves and get to work instead of cutting everything across-the-board and then waiting for the calendar to run out.

There is another way, and this is what this Democratic House Caucus is going to fight for. We know what our Democratic House Caucus priorities
are: creating jobs for our workforce; providing students with a superior education; making sure that every family has a family doctor and access to preventive care; developing long-term plans to manage our natural resources; keeping our families safe from crime and drugs and developing a transportation plan that will take Georgia into the future.
We can determine what our best practices are.
We can budget with these clear priorities in mind.
It is not too late.
Let us come together and reason together, and determine what we must fund and where we must cut back. Let our priorities be the priorities of Georgia’s middle class, not the powerful and politically-connected and let’s give Georgians the most value for their tax dollars.
Like the consensus we reached by coming together in the House to pass a progressive and forward thinking transportation bill, we can provide the stability Georgia needs to move forward.
We need to think like that middle-class family in hard times; look at how much money we have, and figure out what expenditures are most important.
We need to cut what we can, while making sure that we’re keeping our family healthy, safe, and well-educated. It is all a matter of priorities.

We know what our Democratic House Caucus priorities are: jobs, education, transportation, healthcare and conservation of our natural resources. Horse parks, ponds and boat ramps seem to be the current priorities of this disjointed elected Republican leadership.
And as many of you know, I like fishing as well as the next guy, but I like well-educated students and safe neighborhoods even better.
I want to close today with a call to our legislature to focus on Georgia’s economy with vigor and intensity. We must work together, with Georgia’s best interests at heart if we are to move forward.
But we will not: with the budget that was introduced by this Governor today.
This is not a time for politics; this is a time to work together to ensure that we create the Georgia we want our children and grandchildren to inherit. My family has lived in Georgia over 10 generations. I want the next 10 generations to have the same security and prosperity as those who came before and I want a Georgia where we have the opportunity to succeed and a Georgia where the innovation and initiative of our citizens continues to raise the quality of life for us all - that Georgia can still be ours.

Thank you all, and may God bless the state of Georgia.                                                         
Thank you, DuBose Porter

Across-the-board cuts.
Just one more way the culture of corruption in Georgia politics continues to steal the people's voice.

True Leadership is about taking a stand
for what you believe in,
before the poll tells you
it is the correct thing to do. 
Vote for DuBose Porter. He works for you.
Put real leadership and your voice back in government.