In the Governor's State of the State address on Jan. 13 he stated that his $23.7 Billion budget is the highest ever.
What he didn't say is, taking into consideration inflation and Georgia's population growth, that budget is actually less per person than it was in the late 90s. In fact Georgia still ranks as one of the lowest revenue producing states in the nation.
That's great if you are wealthy enough to not need citizen services or you don't have any children in public schools. But that is a small number. In Georgia, 17 percent of our population lives at the poverty level or below, and 19 percent more live near the poverty level. Twenty six percent of our school age children live at or below the poverty level.
Gov. Nathan Deal also spoke about adding $300 Million to the state budget for public education. What he didn't say is that is still $166 million less than the QBE funding formula requires.
This makes the total austerity cuts to public education over $9 billion since 2003. Because of this, at least 40 school districts will continue to have furlough days for teachers. And all school systems will struggle to get the supplies and new textbooks that students need or to reduce class sizes, as the money he added to the budget is earmarked for teacher's raises.
He warned the school systems that if they don't use that $300 million for teacher raises, they could see cuts in their local budgets next year.
Local school systems will also have to pay more for the insurance of janitors, bus drivers and cafeteria workers as the state will be giving them $66 million less for those expenses; they are now paying $400 million locally to cover these expenses. In addition, there have been deep cuts in the amount the state pays for student transportation, thereby adding to local costs.
Add to that the lack of funding for Medicaid, among other services, and you have a lot of Georgians not receiving the aide they need. But as low as our taxes are, there are currently bills in the General Assembly to cut them even further.
You know the old saying "you get what you pay for?"
That is what Georgia is getting and the majority of Georgians are suffering because of it.
Bette Holland, Dawson County