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No stimulus money for 2012

POSTED: June 23, 2010 4:00 a.m.

FY 2010 and 2011 budgets couldn’t have been balanced without getting some of our hard-earned taxpayer dollars back from the federal government. That’s the only thing that kept a lot of elected officials from the dreaded task of raising taxes. Raising taxes in good times is risky business for elected officials; in bad times it’s a death wish.

  

Georgia has used all of the allocated Federal Stimulus money, and unless Congress approves another round of support, there will be none in the FY 2012 budgets.

  

No Federal Stimulus money for FY 2012 will really hurt our healthcare budget.  Healthcare takes almost 20 percent of Georgia’s budget dollars, but Medicaid gets a 3:1 match, e.g., every dollar of state money draws down three federal dollars.

  

In 2012 that ratio will be just 2:1. That will mean an additional $500 million of your state tax dollars will go toward healthcare. 

  

These are the kind of fiscal challenges awaiting cities, counties, school systems and states next year when they struggle to draft FY 2012 budgets.

  

If you thought drafting the FY 2011 budgets was tough, the worst is yet to come.

  

The governor’s revenue figures for May were not encouraging. Revenues for May 2010 when compared with May 2009 were down 6 percent, and year-to-date revenues for FY 2010 are off 10.3 percent or almost $1.5 billion.

  

For the first 11 months of this fiscal year, we have collected revenues of only $12.8 billion. More recent monthly collections have been in the neighborhood of $1.2 billion, which might indicate that the economy is improving — slowly.

  

Keep that figure in mind, because the Amended FY 2010 budget was based on an estimate of about $15 billion. Unless we have a great June collection, I don’t think we will make it. 

  

The recently signed FY 2011 budget is based on a forecast of $15.3 billion in state revenues.   

  

Last Wednesday the Dawson/Lumpkin Homebuilders Association invited me to speak about the Legislative Session. Association members and their President Bill Goode are a great group of people who are well aware of the importance of home construction to our economic recovery. 

  

That very morning there was an article in the business section of The Times of Gainesville discussing the impact that home building has on recovery. 

 

According to that article, building one new house amazingly creates three new jobs and $90 thousand in state and local taxes. Someone will have to explain that to me.

  

In preparation for my speech, I talked with several builders who told me that 2009 was the worst year they had ever experienced. That seemed to be the consensus of those present. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac contributed greatly to our current economic crisis. Maybe our local homebuilders can help turn things around, one house at a time. 

  

Georgia’s “no texting while driving” bill goes into effect July 1.

  

While some newspaper articles say that the “no texting while driving” will be difficult to enforce, AT&T is planning a statewide campaign to get people off the habit. 

  

They are planning to salute the new law with a “Don’t Text and Drive” luncheon on June 30 to honor Sallie Sorohan and family.

  

This will give students and parents a “heads-up” that Caleb’s law goes into effect the next day. 

  

Caleb, Sallie’s grandson and a freshman at North Georgia College & State University, was killed while texting as he drove home.

  

The luncheon will be held at the Morgan County High School, and I thank AT&T and Sallie for inviting me to participate.

  

AT&T is committed to educating wireless customers about the risks of texting and driving. Their message is simple: “When it comes to texting and driving ... it can wait.”

  

Starting in August, their campaign will directly target high school students and young adult drivers. 

  

My AT&T contact said: “We will work directly with the State Superintendent’s office to identify the best strategy for promoting the campaign throughout high schools across the state, as well as the leadership in higher education.

  

That strategy will primarily involve promoting awareness through distributing marketing collateral, promotional materials and playing public service announcements.” 

  

Sallie Sorohan, AT&T and I are working hard to insure that this important law is fully implemented. 

  

With no challenger this year, I’m able to devote my best efforts to attending to your legislative needs.

   

Rep. Amos Amerson can be reached at 689 N. Chestatee Street, Dahlonega, GA 30533; (706) 864-6589; e-mail hamerson@windstream.net. Or contact Gerald Lewy at (706) 344-7788.

 

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