State schools leader rips plan to slash education funding

Georgia School Superintendent Kathy Cox told state budget-writers that spending cuts proposed by Gov. Sonny Perdue endanger the progress public schools have made in recent years.

In an address to joint House and Senate budget committees, Cox said Perdue’s proposals would mean $710 million less in basic school funding for Georgia schools over the next year and a half.  She said her agency’s office budget has been slashed dramatically in recent years, and she noted that Perdue’s budget plan would wipe out regional education offices that work to improve teaching.

“The 2011 budget takes away our ability as a state to do anything to help our schools,” she told lawmakers.

Rep. Alan Powell (D-Hartwell) said there are about 35 school systems that are at risk of  running out of money.

Cox told lawmakers the cuts “will affect the payrolls of every school system in this state.”

The state funds most of the salary for more than 150,000 public school teachers and education staffers.

38 comments Add your comment


January 20th, 2010
2:59 pm

Georgia School Superintendent Kathy Cox told state budget-writers that spending cuts proposed by Gov. Sonny Perdue endanger the progress public schools have made in recent years.

What progress is that?


January 20th, 2010
3:11 pm

Elle-education is Georgia has progressed but of course it depends on the yard stick you use. Perhaps not on the SAT but the achievement gap is decreasing and we are doing a better job for all the students – not just the elite.


January 20th, 2010
4:04 pm

Repeal all sales tax exemptions that have gone above an beyond exemptions on basic food items. Read the GA code, you will see rediculous exemptions on things like pecan-harvesting machinery. These exemptions coupled with lackluster revenue adminsitration from the DOR is killing not only the state budget but local governments, in particular education!!!


January 20th, 2010
4:38 pm

Are RESA’s offices around the state being eliminated?


January 20th, 2010
5:16 pm

Let me be perfectly clear about this:

Public education is not a priority within the Georgia republican majority in the General Assembly. The reason for this is that a significant number of voting parents of public school children do not fit the profile of the targeted republican voter.

The General Assembly continues to place more emphasis on legislation that makes it easier for parents to abandon public education that legislation that will improve public education.

Let’s take a look at charter schools for example. What is the most common refrain of charter advocates? Let us exempt the rules that govern regular public schools and we will show you a better school. Republicans are in the “amen corner” on this one. Have you ever asked a republican legislator why, if the rules governing public education so impede progress, don’t you just change the rules rather than exempt the rules for only a select few.

Another “joke” regarding charter schools is the claim that, when compared to regular public schools, charter schools out perform. Well, duh!

That is as dumb as the Braves playing the Cardinals and the Braves have to play by the current rules and the Cardinals been exempt from these rules and then proclaiming the Cardinals a better team based on the results!!


January 20th, 2010
8:02 pm

Agree with Will that the GOP majority is trying to gut public education – most of them regard themselves as Constitutionalists, however. Apparently they have never read our state constitution, which says that a free and ADEQUATE public education for the citizens is a PRIMARY obligation of the state.


January 21st, 2010
7:11 am

I’m really impressed with some of the thoughtful comments on this posting.

The legislature is going to have to make cuts, and/or obtain more bail-out money from our federal government, and/or raise taxes on the wealthiest Georgians, and/or (as explained above) remove tax exemptions for their corporate friends.

The only solution our legislature really seems to like is education cuts.

Chris Murphy, Atlanta, GA

January 21st, 2010
7:13 am

While Republicans may- may- have a “bias” about public schools because of the demographics of the students, Georgia never- never- had education as it’s highest priority. Transportation always took that spot, with some reason: that is the reason for Atlanta’s existence, for example. However, education is the second-highest funding item of the state. Problem is, GA has always promoted itself as a low-tax state, and we reap now the results of those policies.
College and high school football won’t suffer, though. Nor will lottery sales or cable and satellite TV subscriptions. We’ve got the government we deserve.

The General

January 21st, 2010
8:06 am

Will said, “Public education is not a priority within the Georgia republican majority in the General Assembly. The reason for this is that a significant number of voting parents of public school children do not fit the profile of the targeted republican voter.”

Are you implying that the majority of Republican voters send their children to private school, or am I not understanding your comment? If that is what you mean, then you’re ignorant on this point.


January 21st, 2010
10:34 am

The comments in this blog are definitely an example that the education system in Ga is deficient because it appears that very few of you understand basic Economics 101.

A Company whose revenue & profits are down has two choices – reduce staff or reduce the salaries of the staff. In this case, the company is the taxpayers of the state of Ga – who as a whole are suffering diminished profits and salaries.

The people in the public education field here in Ga can’t seem to grasp this simple concept – they think the state can just print money. Get a clue – if the taxpayers of this state have to learn to live with less, why can’t our Ivory tower educrats do the same?


January 21st, 2010
10:42 am

Of course, Kathy Cox and her husband couldn’t live within their means either. If someone can’t balance a budget in their own household, not much hope in expecting them do perform the task at work.

Pretty sad that Kathy & her husband had no problem sticking it to their creditors in a Bankruptcy filing but she expects the rest of the taxpayers in the state (who aren’t doing as well themselves) to pony up extra bucks to preserve her educational Ivory tower. Ironically, fiscally irresponsible people like Kathy & her husband are the ones that have created this economic disaster for our state.


January 21st, 2010
11:54 am

So the educators in this state don’t pay taxes? Actually they are one of, if not the, largest group of taxpayers in the state. Pay them less and they pay less in taxes. There is your Econ 101.


January 21st, 2010
12:27 pm

Mac – they pay taxes from funds that were seized from taxpayers (as do all government employees). That’s just moving money from one-pocket to the other – doesn’t produce any new revenue for the state.

You must be a teacher, so I forgive your lack of ability to grasp this concept.

Mitch Warnock

January 21st, 2010
12:44 pm

There are simply some things that shouldn’t be cut. Education is one of those things. Its like the situation in which a husband and wife both work ad one gets unexpectedly laid off. What do they do? They spend on the necessaries (rent, food, utlities, clothes) but cut out the frills. We need to do the same. I’m all for preserving state parks and building fish ponds and all that stuff, but spending gobs of money to fix up Jekyll Island and other pet projects when we’re having to cut education just flies in the face of common sense. Just 5 -8 years ago we were talking about going to a 200 day school year. Why? Because our kids are behind a lot of other states as well as other countries. Now we can’t even teach them for 180 days. What is wrong with this picture?


January 21st, 2010
12:52 pm

Pompano == Rude Idiot

Kathy’s hudband’s construction business was like many small businesses. He had to personally guarantee his operating loans, and when the economy when belly up, so did his business. What does that have to do with her ability to run the DOE? There are a lot of smart business people that were hurt in this decline. It doesn’t make them suddenly stupid or corrupt.

Your condensending comments towards Mac are even worse. When a teacher is paid, they pay a portion of that income back to the state in taxes. They also buy things that include additional taxes. These taxes do flow back to the state, and they pay federal taxes as well. Maybe you would understand this if you put some thought into it.

The bottom line is that education in GA is suffering, and our legislative leaders aren’t focused on the solution, just their re-election in Nov. Cox is focused on holding systems, schools, teachers and students accountable, and our legislature is focused on taking money from the schools and moving it to private schools and corporations where there is no accountability. For evidence of their effectiveness, look at the state charter system called Warren County.


January 21st, 2010
1:25 pm

Pompano —
So they don’t buy houses or cars or any other goods and services that keep other non-government workers employed and spending? All money travels in a cycle that moves from “one-pocket to another”. It is when that cycle slows and or stops that we find ourselves with problems like we now have to deal with.
Guess you slept through that part of class.

But I guess I have to agree with one point – your Econ teacher must have been terrible.

As far as my being a teacher goes, actually no – but keep on hating.


January 21st, 2010
1:30 pm

The type of response I’d expect from someone with a handle like Santa. Boohoo – it wasn’t Kathy’s husbands fault, blah blah – of course I wouldn’t expect you to understand the concept of accountability no more than you apear to understand the principles of Economics. The only thing missing from your post was the atypical blather of “it’s Bush’s fault”. The far majority of businesses did not go bankrupt during this Economy – just those that over-extended themselves or were poorly run.

I’ll get remedial for you here to assist your tiny teacher brain to understand:
Scenario#1 -State takes $100 from a non government taxpayer (who is struggling to make ends meet), takes $40 from that amount to pay to a teacher. Teacher pays back $2 to the state in taxes – yippie!
Scenario#2 -Non-government taxpayer is unemployedand has no money so the State borrows the funds to pay $40 to a teacher. Teacher pays back $2 to the state in taxes. Yeah – that will really grow our Economy and get us out of the ditch.

BTW – this lack of accountability for Private schools and corporations you lament. Where exactly is the accountability for public schools? Does your short-term memory not include the recent howling that occurred when our Governor recently suggested we implement steps to do just that?


January 21st, 2010
1:33 pm

Mac – see my remedial explanation for Santa. I doubt you’ll grasp it as it appears you have no clue on how an Economy actually works. However, money seized from taxpayers and then re-circulated does not fuel or grow an Economy. If that were the case, Communist countries would have the largest and most succesful Economies in the world.


January 21st, 2010
2:29 pm

OK Troll – Now why would you only take 2 dollars from a teacher and 100 from a non-government employee?

You must have also slept through the class that provided an accurate description about Communism too.Which countries do you believe are Communist? Don’t let the facts slow you down though, this is too entertaining.


January 21st, 2010
2:35 pm

I’m willing to bet that Pompano thinks we have a teacher’s union, too . . .

Yay to Santa and Mac for thinking about the economic details surrounding the cuts to education. I don’t understand why the state feels it necessary to burden only state employees (teachers included) with furloughs and budget cuts to help the budget crisis. I am appalled that at this point, there is far more pork in our government budget that needs to be cut before education. I am equally appalled that in spite of an election year, no legislator will consider raising taxes or getting counties to raise mill rates to help the budgets, something that ALL Georgians can do to help the schools that serve ALL their children. Please explain to me that in Dekalb county, where the superintendent is declaring a $3500 salary cut to his employees (after takiing a $15000 raise, btw) so that they can help the budget.

Directly from the AJC: “but we can’t raise mill rates because that would affect so many Georgians with foreclosures . . .” $88 a year to help ALL of Georgia while a teacher faces a 4% salary cut – possibly contributing to more foreclosures?

Where is the common sense here? I hope we are getting to a place where education will finally get the priority it deserves.


January 21st, 2010
2:46 pm

We can’t raise mill rates because the banks own so much property now. I don’t believe for one minute that many of our politicians are all that worried about the average person paying a little more in property tax. It is not property tax that causes foreclosures usually it is the crazy interest rates and over priced housing.


January 21st, 2010
3:05 pm

Geez Mac, you’re much slower than I thought. If I’m a troll for talking over your head then consider me guilty. The $2 is only a trickle down from the original tax seized of $100 and only based on the $40 given to the educrat – not their entire salary. Guess I wasn’t remedial enough for you.

As for Communist countries – try the failed Eastern Bloc & the Soviet Union. So much for wealth re-distribution producing a growing & stable Economy. Even my alleged “terrible” Econ teacher taught us that.


January 21st, 2010
3:48 pm

No, You just seem to have trouble explaining things I think. Sort of like holding a poor teacher accountable for their lack of competency (which I fully support) I hold you as not being able to defend your position in a rational and well explained way. The teacher next door pays as much or more taxes on their income as anyone else, and the money they spend goes into the economy just like mine does, which supports jobs for others. The only difference is the teacher’s taxes actually go back to paying themselves in one sense.

I tell you what though, let’s do away with the public system and the taxes that go to them and see what you wind up paying for your children to be educated then!You don’t seem to realize what a truly private (I’m talking no tax money going to the school at all – not that voucher garbage) education would cost the individual.
Your 40 dollar figure (where ever it came from) is a hell of a bargain.

None of those were truly communist countries. There has never been a truly communist country. Things in this world are not black and white as you seem to see them.


January 21st, 2010
3:52 pm

Get real cut Pennsions Health Care
Make retirement at full SS age.
The real world has alreadt


January 21st, 2010
4:00 pm

Hey Pompano, doing more with less in education is completely reasonable IF it weren’t for still having to ensure that all multiple federal and state mandates have to be met in all areas from NCLB to special education to POI to ESOL, etc. Businesses IS a different animal as you can make all of the changes you want save EEOC and ADA compliance issues. Anything else, you have free range to find creative ways to save money, not so with public education.

party crasher $325,000.

January 21st, 2010
4:04 pm

has anyone really looked at school administration systems and how they really waste money. also, the can not keep paying money for schools or anything else if the state is broke.


January 21st, 2010
4:05 pm

*Business, sorry to appear uneducated with typos…

party crasher $325,000.

January 21st, 2010
4:07 pm

correction: the “state” can not


January 21st, 2010
4:44 pm

Mac – I know exactly what it costs to educate a child in a Private school and it’s a lot better cost-benefit than provided by the public sector. Been paying private tuition for 9 years now – on top of my school taxes.

Also, why is it considered OK (and long accepted) for the government to provide financial assistance to individuals to attend a Private College/University but not prior to that? Why is High School Graduation the magic cutoff for a student & parent to exercise school choice and not before? Based on the public school model, we should assign students to Colleges based on geography, not on ability. However, if that was proposed there would be loud protest. If it works after grade 12, why not before?

hmmm… so the Soviet Union wasn’t Communist?? Looks hopeless here – I’m heading to the Sports blogs in search of intelligent life

Ugly Truth

January 21st, 2010
5:01 pm

Reality check: the governor’s proposal budget cuts 3% from education, the rest of the budget is facing cuts of about 9%. The cuts would involve 3 day furloughs for teachers — 3 non-instruction days over an entire year. The school districts in Georgia that spend the MOST MONEY per student, the City of Atlanta and the City of Atlanta which spend 12k+ per student, are the LEAST EFFECTIVE. Cox is just using taxpayer money to lobby for more taxpayer money for teachers. Perdue’s proposed budget is realistic and responsible.


January 21st, 2010
5:06 pm

Ugly Truth – Amen!


January 21st, 2010
7:33 pm

Pompano, please read Article VIII of the Georgia Constitution, then get back to us.

I have gotten one idea from your rants…since state employees pay taxes that also pay their own salaries, state employees should be exempt from state income taxes. Don’t you think that makes sense?


January 21st, 2010
10:44 pm

Perdue is not concerned about his constituents. His refusal to accept President Obama’s entire stimulus package in this very much weakened economy speaks volumes regarding his concerns for Georgia’s educational standings…. Division sends to be his grand plan in order to try and make Obama look bad only served to make him smell and look worse. When your schools are ranked close to the bottom of all the other’s, your first concern should be aimed at improvement. Not so for this governor. It appears Perdue is fine in this position. Why else would he desire to stay in this ill fitting position?? Yet it is said that his proposed budget is realistic and responsible. You think!.


January 22nd, 2010
6:26 pm

Ugly Truth hits the nail on the head!

Concerning raising millage rates, bad idea! If you want to have a real impact by raising taxes it should be a sales tax so everyone participates rather than limiting increased taxes to property owners.

The truth is that there is pork in every part of state government. Holding taxes where they are and forcing the government to be more efficient is a far better idea than taking more money from the people who earn it.


January 25th, 2010
9:25 pm

this property tax thing is a bit overstated. renters pay property taxes imbedded in rent to their landlords who then pay property taxes.

granted rents are a bigger bargain now, but i am not sure that apartment property valuations are changed downward more often than homes.

or have i got it all wrong?

Mr. Grumpy

January 26th, 2010
10:06 am

Pompano — Let me see if I understand this. The people who caused the country’s current economic crisis are people like Kathy Cox and her husband who couldn’t live within their means, right? Well, what role did Wall Street play in decisions to permit those without the means to enter into a mortgage agreement they had no way of maintaining? So, the US taxpayer “ponies up” and pays billions to the Wall Street thieves, who then turn around and reward themselves with the largest bonuses ever paid out. Are you mental? Once again, the suckers pay for the excesses of a handful special people — those to whom much has already been given.

Here’s how we solve all the tax exemptions we’re giving to any number of businesses in this state. The exemptions were given presumptively because these companies and businesses were going to give jobs to Georgians, right? I mean what other reason would be offered for asking for and receiving the exemption? So, the solution is simple. Demand these exempted businesses produce a list of each Georgian employed by their business for each of the years they received tax exemptions. If they can’t produce that list, two things need to happen. First, the exemption is immediately withdrawn by the state and these businesses start paying their taxes like the rest of us, post haste. The second thing is, the State of Georgia needs to re-coup any monies not paid by them by suing these businesses in state or federal court.

[...] Sonny Perdue thinks the Governor knows what is best for Georgians… but in his 7 years Georgia is still a bottom feeder in terms of Education and even cut state spending for schools. [...]


February 14th, 2010
8:32 pm

I am a teacher in the public school system. I work hard each and every day to teach my students and help them to be successful. What people don’t seem to understand is that in public school we don’t screen and select our students. We get what we get and do the best we can to help them succeed. On a daily basis we as teachers have students who are eager to learn and those who could care less about learning. We have students who are attentive and those who roll around the floor and disrupt the entire lesson. When we contact parents about their children disrupting the class we are faced with comments such as “it must be some other child’s fault” or “what did you do to make my child do these things”. The reason public education in Georgia is so low is not simply because our teachers aren’t doing their job, but it has many other factors such as lack of discipline in the home, little parent involvement, and lack of resources. I was glad to take a 2% pay cut in order to save jobs in my County and I am glad to have a job. My students are what keep me going and I will continue to do all I can with what I am given to help them be successful. If everyone would stop bashing teachers and lend us the support we need then I believe you will see education in our state improve.