4/15: Georgia Legislature: An empty feeling

By the AJC Editorial Board

The Legislature in 2011 stubbornly refused to act on model legislation to create 21st-century governance for the Atlanta region’s multiple transit agencies. They nixed a model that’s proved its worth elsewhere.
What bubbled up instead this year was more of the tired same — a proposal to move transit oversight to a state-controlled board. That might make sense in a state that contributes meaningfully to urban transit. Georgia doesn’t.

This idea, too, went nowhere. Lawmakers also stonewalled a measure to extend MARTA’s relief from an important funding restriction, which is to end next year. Read the rest of what the AJC Editorial Board had to say.

Then check out what Mike Klein, editor at The Georgia Public Policy Foundation, has to say, along with commentary by Alan Essig, executive director of the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, and tell us what you think.

21 comments Add your comment

Skeptical

April 13th, 2012
7:44 pm

Of the three suggested opinions (Alan Essig, Andre Jackson, and Mike Klein), Klein is the only voice of reason who seems to understand the measured approach to reform undertaken by the Legislature. It is no surprise the Essig is unhappy given the left leaning views in general. The same holds true of Jackson writing on behalf of the AJC Editorial Board.

Is the so-called “more balanced” journalistic approach touted by the AJC? If so, too bad! You continue to fail to see how the liberal skew of your approach has negatively impacted your readership. Even after the AJC goes the way of the dodo those who were there to until the end will not understand what happened. The public can handle your liberal views in the context of a real discussion about the issues that face the city itself and the metro area in general. The change? Keep it!

Ron C.

April 13th, 2012
9:59 pm

I couldn’t figure out why married couples suddenly needed a $2,000 additional exemption. Never mind us singles who are already struggling to make ends meet.

It’s still not clear to me how replacing the ad valorem tax with a higher tax on a new car purchase is of any real benefit. Why not forego all the tax if Legislature really wanted to help citizens?

Road Scholar

April 14th, 2012
5:42 am

Ron C: The new tax on a new car replaces both the ad valorem and the sales tax on the new vehicle, I believe. Reread the law.

As for the state not putting money into transit, they do oversee the use of federal transit funds by all transit operators.

DeborahinAthens

April 14th, 2012
8:52 am

@Skeptical, why is it when anyone tells the facts the way it is (read”truth”) Right Wing Conservatives start with the mud slinging. In the years since the Republicans have taken control of this state, the infrastructure–roads, sewer systems,water system, bridges–have gone to hell in a hand basket. I-85 as you approach Atlanta is crumbling on the sides, yet we spend millions to set up an HOT lane, which makes traffic worse. We have de-regulated just about anything that can be de-regulated, so now companies like Rayonier can destroy entire rivers and not be punished or forced to clean up their mess. Our school system is being gutted one piece at a time because the Right Wingers keep telling us it is a bad system. They take more and more money from our public schools trying to create a voucher system that will only benefit the families that are already able to pay for their little Bubbas’ education at their Christian School. We have a state run by people that do not believe in evolution, and try at every opportunity to prevent this science from being taught. They try to re-write history by telling Bubba and Muffie that the world started less than 6000 years ago, while staring at dinosaurs and fossils that are millions of years old. These Right Wingers tell us there is no climate change, while all about us the trees and shubs are blooming months ahead of what is normal. They refuse to admit that our supply of fossil fuel and other resources such as water and food are limited while driving their six and seven kids around in the SUV and massive mini vans. We are a joke in this country and cannot figure out why we cannot attract business to this state. Their plan is to “just keep lowering taxes” refusing to see that it is not the tax rate that keeps intelligent people away, but the lack of water, crumbling infrastructure and the idiots that come out of our schools. In order to maintain our society we must be willing to pay the appropriate level of taxes. Otherwise, we at on our way to becoming a Banana Republic. But the Republicans don’t get it. And we keep re-electing the idiots. God help us.

carlosgvv

April 14th, 2012
9:21 am

The people, each and every year, have a deep sense of betrayal after Georgia’s Legislature adjourns. Lobbyists, on the other hand, have a rich, full feeling of having another year of sucessfull bribery.

carlosgvv

April 14th, 2012
10:05 am

DeborahinAthens

Everything you say is true except the “we” thing. I have never voted for these sociopaths. Unfortunately, far too many of the mindless have and still do.

CPJ

April 14th, 2012
10:07 am

@DeborahinAthens. Very well stated.

Will the last Democrat in Georgia please turn off the lights?.....

April 14th, 2012
11:46 am

“4/15: Georgia Legislature: An empty feeling”

You mean like the empty feeling that our good-for-nothing state legislators experience in their heads everyday?

I guess that’s what they mean by the term “the air up there” as it’s pretty obvious that our lawmakers haven’t got the slightest bit of brains.

Outer Perimeter

April 14th, 2012
2:18 pm

All our legislators, both state and national, are the best examples for why a one-term limit law should be instituted for all elective offices.

SAWB

April 14th, 2012
3:35 pm

Deborah, Deborah, Deborah… While you do a great job parroting the party line you make one primary error those legislators in Atlanta are actually faux Republicans who simply switched from the Democrat party for political expediency. They are not governing based on true conservative principals although there is still hope.

While many of your examples may be true I would call your attention to Gwinnett County which has long been run by Republicans and for the most part suffers from few of the infrastructure issues you are referring to. While Gwinnet does have some challenged schools for the most part their educational system far exceeds state averages. When you look at the areas with the greatest challenges in the county guess what – they are Democrat based.

While the counties with the worst infrastructure and educational systems in the State of Georgia have long been run by Democrats. I do share you disdain and lack of confidence in those idiots under the dome, but it is not free market principals and less government that is hurting us it is just the opposite.

Mary Elizabeth

April 15th, 2012
11:59 pm

The Democratic Party is the correct name, not the “Democrat party.”

dc

April 16th, 2012
8:11 am

Just thankful that we have a legislature that doesn’t buy off huge voting blocks (primarily govt workers) with my kids future earnings….like CA, IL, NY, etc. In 50 years, folks will be clamoring to move into GA as those states go bankrupt.

Waynejgl

April 16th, 2012
2:28 pm

The illiterates of the far right have not been able to decifer the difference between a ‘Democrat’ and the ‘DemocratIC Party’ for quite a number of years now. It does indeed take a bit of education and some knowledge of grammar.

dc

April 16th, 2012
8:10 pm

yeah, because that makes a huge difference. Way more important than the actual point SAWB was making…….unless you care about actual results.

double

April 16th, 2012
8:14 pm

Wayne please (decifer)the difference.

Mary Elizabeth

April 16th, 2012
10:10 pm

For those who do not know the difference in the grammatical usage of the words “democrat” and “democratic,” I offer the following information:

The word “democrat” is a noun.

The word “democratic” is an adjective.

A noun is the name of a person, place, or thing.

An adjective describes a noun.

A noun cannot describe another noun. A noun is described by an adjective.

Thus, the following sentences are correctly stated:

“I am a Democrat.”

“The Democratic Party has roots as far back as 1800.”

“A Democrat is a member of the Democratic Party.”

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The word “party” is a noun. The word “democrat” is, also, a noun.

Again, a noun cannot describe another noun.

Thus, it is grammatically incorrect to write: “The Democrat Party has roots as far back as 1800.”

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Content is important. Grammatical correctness is, also, important.

middleground

April 16th, 2012
10:40 pm

Its only when we take the best of both sides that we suceed. Georgia suffers greatly because they are a one party state. Its destroying us………….come on Democrats give us some canidates to believe in.

ScottNATL

April 16th, 2012
11:14 pm

Our legislators are the most misinformed (unless you are paying), dysfunctional, power hungry bunch that has probably ever existed. Take Chip Rogers (R-Woodstock) as an example. He is a board member of A.L.E.C who with his help tried to push legislation paid for by AT&T (via A.L.E.C.) that would define broadband as something barely above dial-up, Remove local control, and sucker GA voters in his district by standing at the top of the hill and pay homage as a culture warrior. If we keep electing corrupt clowns like him, nothing will change. We can complain but we ourselves are to blame when its all said and done

Mary Elizabeth

April 17th, 2012
12:12 am

“Georgia suffers greatly because they are a one party state. Its destroying us………….come on Democrats give us some canidates [sic] to believe in.”
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Georgia will not be a two party state until the people of Georgia, themselves, become more progressive in their political views. They must begin to see through some of the ultraconservative propaganda perpetuated against the government, in Georgia. They must begin to realize, once again, that they are their government, a “government “of, by, and for the people.” Georgians must begin to realize, once again, that the government serves a vital purpose in their lives, as well as in the economy, itself. Increasing money flow is important to uplift the economy, and part of that money flow should come from maintaining the government’s infrastructure and from providing services to the public. To have a healthy economy, there must be a proper balance between the private sector’s business interests and and the public sector’s governmental interests.

The politics of division is hurting the well being of the average Georgian. Rightwing ideological organizations, such as ALEC, are ensuring that the wealthiest become even wealthier, including supportive politicians, while the middle and working classes struggle. Political balance is needed, once again, in Georgia. That means that Georgians must start to see through what has been happening and become more progressive and proactive in their thinking. When that happens, more Democrats will be elected in Georgia, and this state will, once again, have a two party system of government.

Mary Elizabeth

April 17th, 2012
10:16 am

From the link above of Mike Klein’s article:

“Two bills attempted to stimulate Georgia’s nascent venture capital investments industry. Both were controversial, highly political and neither passed the Legislature. Georgia continues to incubate businesses that move to other states when they need more venture capital. The Legislature must deal with this issue before more businesses and jobs lost.

Pension reform is another barrier that began to come down this year. The state Employees Retirement System is now authorized to invest up to 5 percent (about $750 million) of its available total assets (about $14.9 billion) in venture capital pools and other private placements specifically named in legislation. Georgia public sector pensions are well-funded in comparison to many states. However, public sector pensions nationally are under pressure as boomers begin to retire and state revenue is slow to recover from the recession. Eventually, the teachers’ retirement system should be included. Currently it is not, which is their choice.”

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I notice that Mike Klein asserts that “(e)ventually, the teachers’ retirement system should be included (using public pension funds for private venture capital risky investments). Currently it is not, which is their choice.”

I do not agree with Mr. Klein’s thinking. He proposes using the government funds of teachers’ retirement monies to subsidize private sector venture capital investments in order to keep start up businesses in Georgia. Let the Legislature come up with another means of funding venture capital risky investments other than with teacher retirement funds. I realize that the many in the majority Republican Legislature wish to privatize much of Georgia’s present governmental programs, including public education, but the TRS should be “hands off” to their voracious appetite for this movement. Teacher Retirement System funds were established for the old age security of present day teacher retirees. This is a shameful attempt to use government funds, previously established for the old age security of the vulnerable, to subsidize current risky private enterprise. This Legislative attempt is transparent in its purpose – for all who care to see.

Mary Elizabeth

April 17th, 2012
2:45 pm

From the book, “Family of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty, the Powerful Forces That Put It in the White House, and What Their Influence Means for America” by Russ Baker (Bloomsbury Press, New York, 2009), Chapter 17, page 365:

“As New York Times reporter David Cay Johnston discovered, the Texas Republican Party had already expressed official disapproval of such activity, having stipulated: ‘Public money (including taxes or bond guarantees) or public powers (such as eminent domain) should not be used to fund or implement so-called private enterprise projects.’ 16″

Reference source for Footnote 16, from Chapter 17, of “Family of Secrets” (page 544):

“16. David Cay Johnston, “Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (and Stick You with the Bill) (New York: Portfolio, 2007), p. 79.”
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Evidently, Georgia’s Legislature would be well to question not only the legitimacy (moral and legal) of using government established teacher retirement pension funds for private business venture capital risky investment endeavors, but also to question the legitimacy of using public tax funds – which were meant for public “government” schools – as funds for educational vouchers which could be distributed to private for-profit schools, to home schooling parents, or to online private for-profit educational companies for the education of the general public’s children in Georgia.