Karen Handel learns that reporters can run, but can’t hide

Karen Handel (far right) inside slightly less than immaculate offices of the AJC.

Karen Handel (far right) inside the decor-challenged offices of the AJC.

If you’re hunting news reporters, it’s only natural to stalk their lairs – to sneak up on them while they’re still slightly lethargic from digesting a large meal of Carol Porter.

So Karen Handel and her two guides this afternoon made a rare and stealthy entrance into press row at the state Capitol, a line of offices where grown adults go to shake off every childhood lecture about neatness.

The Republican candidate for governor grabbed a reporter’s chair in the AJC enclave and started talking. Shannon McCaffery with the Associated Press took the next seat. In came Walter Jones with Morris News Service, pad in hand. Lori Geary of WSB-TV brought a camera man to fill the front door. Tom Baxter of InsiderAdvantage and Travis Fain of the Macon Telegraph rounded out the crowd.

Bingo. Instant news conference.

Handel announced that her solution to the state’s budget crisis is to recognize “the new normal” and slice Georgia’s state workforce by 10 percent – exempting teachers, State Patrol officers and others who keep the bad guys in line.

It would save $400 million – not enough to close the $1.2 billion budget gap for 2011. And it would take more than a few months to reach that 10 percent mark, she conceded. Here are some of her details:

– Permanent elimination of 10% of state government positions for FY2011 budget year – excluding teachers and public safety officers (State Patrol, GBI, etc.). This would save approximately $404 million and reduce the workforce by approximately 7,800 employees.

– Keep permanent the Governor’s budget savings to date achieved through attrition, resignations, and retirements. According to the State Personnel Administration, this represents nearly 5% of the workforce and equals an additional $190 million in savings.

–Reorganize agencies to reduce management layers and achieve supervisor/ employee ratio of 8 or 9 employees to 1 supervisor. Too often employees are promoted to supervisor or manager positions because of length of service rather than a reflection of management responsibilities.

–Reform state salary and benefits by moving state employees to “paid time off” (or PTO) and limited leave carry-over rather than the current accrual system, which allows employees to “bank” significant amounts of sick, compensatory, and vacation time that is then used to “bridge” to retirement or is cashed-in upon departure/retirement.

Handel’s get-’em-where-they-live tactic was immediately mimicked by a Republican rival for governor, state Rep. Austin Scott of Tifton, who held a mini-press conference in AP headquarters. In rebuttal, Scott said Handel was overestimating the savings from a 10 percent workforce reduction.

But Scott, who sits on the House Appropriations Committee, said lawmakers were indeed looking at the elimination of whole sections of agencies within state departments.

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68 comments Add your comment

Higher Education

February 25th, 2010
4:52 pm

Sounds like another Sonny to me and see where that got us.She knows alot about State goverment and other agencies with her vast years of experience in State Goverment.The next thing she will suggest is to build a fish farm in Atlanta.I love politicans in election year anything to sound like they know something about nothing!!!!

Ralph Jr.

February 25th, 2010
4:53 pm

God help us if this idiot gets elected or any other GOP member! The only choice for governor is Poythress!!

Never Went to College

February 25th, 2010
4:56 pm

I love Karen Handel because she never went to college. She’s uneducated, which is just what Georgia needs right now. Plus, she’s menopausal and not very intelligent, which just makes her all that much more attractive to the average Georgia voter. She has a bright future ahead of her in either the food service or the housekeeping industries.


February 25th, 2010
5:01 pm

Ms Handel and imitators: don’t forget slashing the Forestry Commission (the folks who put out forest fires), the DA’s Offices (the folks who put criminals behind bars) the Courts and judges, Drug Courts, State Parks, Veterans Facilities, Medicaid (grandma goes to a nursing home after she depletes her life savings), Mental Health, Extension Offices, State Patrol, UGA professors and staff, MCG professors and staff, community colleges, vocational technical schools, drivers license offices, DFACS, and all the other agencies that we depend on. Let’s keep beating up on the state employess until they can’t take it any more and leave government to become sheetrock installers and peach pickers. Or better yet, they can become unemployed and add to our stellar unemployment rate. But for heaven’s sake, don’t touch the tax breaks to business which the lobbyists fought so hard for. And don’t even think of “revenue enhancement” like other states are doing. Maybe we can insure Georgia will no longer be near the bottom of every list comparing us to other states– we will finally secure our position at the very bottom of every measure of quality of life and desirability.. It’s been hard work these eight years, but with these draconian cuts to vital services, we can finally reach the bottom. Good going Republican ax wielders. Just don’t cut yourselves when you are flailing around trying to cut everybody else.

make more people unemployed

February 25th, 2010
5:05 pm

Yes, the answer is to put another 7,800 people on unemployment. It will reduce their spending, their use of private health care, and their end of year tax bill to the state. The state saves money in the short run and that’s all that matters… *snark*


February 25th, 2010
5:06 pm

Condescension is a weird disease because it makes everyone sick except the one who has it.

In addition to hating women, native Georgians, non-college graduates, and employees in the food service and housekeeping industries, are there any other groups on your hit list?

Compassionate people those Democrats.

We need another condescending Democrat with a high-toned attitude but no common sense to be the chief executive of the state.


Higher Education

February 25th, 2010
5:09 pm

the mascot for Handel campaign should be the new State Bird the CHICKEN. Lay Eggs everywhere and see what hatches.

Atl Resident

February 25th, 2010
5:16 pm

Why don’t Handel just donate some of all that so-called campaign money back to the state to help the so-called budget shortfalls? I wonder if she on that delinquent politician list that hasn’t paid taxes in years?


February 25th, 2010
5:17 pm

Could you imagine if she and Carol Porter both won? Talk about menopausal brigade!! Take if from one who is going through menopause, it’s not always pretty and your thoughts aren’t always clear. As for cutting the state’s employees by 10%, I believe that I would put more stock in what Representative Scott said than Ms. Handel — after all, he is dealing with it on a daily basis. He is after all on the House Appropriations Committee and is dealing with this all day long. He has a lot more insight into what can and can’t be done or what should or shouldn’t be done. Also, as far as mimicking Ms. Handel, I believe it was planned that he would drop by the AJC before her big surprise visit!


February 25th, 2010
5:17 pm

Here’s what “revenue enhancements” bring you:

“More than $70 billion in wealth left New Jersey between 2004 and 2008 as affluent residents moved elsewhere, according to a report released Wednesday that marks a swift reversal of fortune for a state once considered the nation’s wealthiest.

This was not always the case. The study – the first on interstate wealth migration in the country — noted the state actually saw an influx of $98 billion in the five years preceding 2004. The exodus of wealth, then, local experts and economists concluded, was a reaction to a series of changes in the state’s tax structure — including increases in the income, sales, property and “millionaire” taxes.
“This study makes it crystal clear that New Jersey’s tax policies are resulting in a significant decline in the state’s wealth,” said Dennis Bone, chairman of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce and president of Verizon New Jersey.
Wealthy residents are a key driver for everything from job creation and consumer spending to the real estate market and the state budget, said Jim Hughes, dean of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University. In New Jersey, the top 1 percent of taxpayers pay more than 40 percent of the state’s income tax, he said.
“That’s probably why we have these massive income shortfalls in the state budget, especially this year,” he said.
Until the tax structure is improved, he said, “we’ll probably see a continuation of the trend, until there are no more high-wealth individuals left.”


Why won’t leftists call taxes what they are?

Not Going To Use My Usual Name

February 25th, 2010
5:17 pm

Sure, RGB. Condescension… like tarring all Democrats with the same brush because one person (who might well be a troll) opted to post an offensive remark?

Little C

February 25th, 2010
5:17 pm

Hey, how come I never got my picture in the AJC? Loving the new carpet, though…

Not Going To Use My Usual Name

February 25th, 2010
5:18 pm

Oh, and I’ll call taxes what they are: the price of living in a civilized society with a reasonable social safety net.

Not Going To Use My Usual Name

February 25th, 2010
5:23 pm

* 9 of the 10 states with the lowest divorce rates are blue states
* the 10 states with the highest divorce rates are red states (most of which are in the Bible Belt)
* of the “winning” states that receive more in federal tax money than they give, 76 percent are red states
* of the “losing” states that give more in federal tax money than they receive, 69 percent voted for Al Gore in 2000

So a quick review: statistically speaking, the economic engine driving the country = blue states. The drain on federal resources = red states. The so-called “moral values” folks divorce way more often than the live-and-let-live “libtards.”


February 25th, 2010
5:28 pm

no mention of phasing out corporate tax cuts that are not certifable cost/benefit justified. oh that’s right corporations don’t pay taxes, people do…….which kinda blows the SC logic on corporations being treated like people…..but i digress. salaries especially in regents, salary creep before retirement, managerial span of control, duplication or possible overlap good ideas. some agencies may be just too small and need to be incorporated to share acctg, payroll, purchasing etc. the state has for as long as i can remember the same flat income tax rate which doesn’t seem to onerous. sales tax increased by 1 cent in late 80’s and then exempted food… that doesn’t seem too onerous.

our state has really grown population wise and except for formula driven agencies like education, regents, tech adult and medicaid, pretty much of a dog fight for crums for the rest of agencies. the new normal should examine state’s compensation packages (salary, health, & retirement)again and compared to large businesses….

crank up sunset of some laws to reduce outdated or irrelevant laws and the bureaucracies that regulate them……

health care costs are key and hopefully something contructive will be done both state and federal levels.


February 25th, 2010
5:32 pm

Trickle down stopped working when we bailed out Wall Street. Now it’s “Trickle UP”. We peons are maintaining the rich folks in the style to which they have become accustomed.
BTW, I used to live in New Jersey. Any rational person would leave it because every square inch is covered in asphalt, ticky-tacky subdivisions, stinky factories and toxic dumps (except for a few enclaves for the rich.) I guess that is what our leaders want to Georgia also. When in doubt, PAVE IT.


February 25th, 2010
5:39 pm

To say that Karen Handel can’t lead due to the fact that she is a woman is silly. I think everyone can agree that the ability to lead isn’t bias to either male or females. However, to elect someone to run a STATE who has no college degree. That is when I begin to get worried.


February 25th, 2010
5:40 pm

Instead of a “SIN TAX” on smokes, how about LLF (Lobby License Fee)? LLF would be $100,000.00 annually per person (for Georgia Power that would about a billion per year). If corporations are going to be buying member of the legislature, why keep up the payola? Just use a flat fee and make up the revenue shortage. But then they already own them so that means they would bite the hand that feeds them. Oh well, one easy solution to the shortfall that wouldn’t hurt the little guys.


February 25th, 2010
5:45 pm

If the number, kind, and source of college degrees translated into professional competence, we wouldn’t be in the mess we are in.

Our President has two college degrees.

He can’t balance a budget and can’t adequately protect us militarily. Heck, he can’t even run a meeting as evidenced today.

You can point out that G.W. Bush has two college degrees and didn’t balance a budget and you’d be right on that.

Again, if the number, kind, and source of college degrees translated into professional competence, we wouldn’t be in the mess we are in.


February 25th, 2010
5:45 pm

Yay, there’s our old “truthy” friend “RGB” to recite the latest talk radio partisan hackery and radical right wing talking points. Just what we need in a budget crisis, an ideologue puppet devoid of all original and/or critical thinking. Not.



February 25th, 2010
5:56 pm

Here’s another shot at it.

Nobody has criticized Handel’s policies (though several folks here believe their taxes are way too low. By the way, you can contribute extra revenue to the government on your own volition–there is no penalty.)

I want someone to say: “Gee, I don’t disagree with her stances on any of the issues but I just can’t vote for her because she doesn’t have a college degree.

Now Bob over there–why I don’t agree with him on anything but did you realize he has a entomology degree from Slippery Stone University, a proctology degree from Johns Hopkins, a J.D. from Harvard, and a Th.D. from Oxford?

Setting aside the fact he’s never run a business, never worked in the private sector, doesn’t have any common sense, ran around on his wife and filed bankruptcy three times– now THERE’s the person who’ll be getting my vote!”

Welcome leftists! Georgia has room for one more.


February 25th, 2010
6:19 pm

Going to college is overrated. Sonny went to college as did probably most of the contributors to this blog.

‘Nuff said.


February 25th, 2010
6:21 pm

“The Obama administration has steered up to $150 million in federal funding for the development and production of an anthrax vaccine to a bio-defense firm with strong Democratic Party ties, Fox News has learned.” Two weeks ago there was a $25 million contract in a similar arrangement to another Dem contributor.

I long for the good ole days when the liberati would talk about “no bid contracts for Halliburton.”

Oh, I almost forgot. It’s from Fox News so it can’t be true. Even if folks are indicted, convicted, and sentenced. Sorry, Faux News. I’m catching on.

Evil corporations.

polly 2

February 25th, 2010
6:26 pm

Wow! Hearing this you would think that Karen Handel wasn’t hiring a new midlevel manager or other well compensated employee at the SOS almost every week during the darkest months of the recession. Strange also how they almost all ended up working for Shawn LaGrua who is now a judge. You would also think that she didn’t give her appointed staff a huge raise compared to salaries Cathy Cox paid to those types.


February 25th, 2010
6:36 pm

It’s time people started giving Representative Scott some serious consideration. He is fully aware of the cuts that SHOULD be made and WHERE. Further, he’s working on that issue right now (on a daily basis). I think if he says she’s looking in the wrong place, then she’s looking in the wrong place. Excess should be eliminated — does the state really need four planes? Does the Forestry Department really need all the planes they have when they only fly them an average of 3.5 to 4 hours per week. Think about it — these issues add up to more than a few pennies. There are cuts that can be made to the University System that would save the State millions of dollars. At this point, every penny that can be saved should be saved.

Colonel Fannin

February 25th, 2010
6:37 pm

Most of the comments regarding Karen are just plain nasty, uninformed, personal attacks with no substance regarding her policy positions. Indeed, this discussion about having or not having a college degree is being raised by people who, ironically, haven’t apparently haven’t themselves obtained a sufficient education to offer substantive criticism so they resort to name calling and woman hating attacks.
Given the declining revenues in the state, we are going to have to make some serious budget cuts and government jobs, just like private sector jobs, are going to have to reflect the budget realities and people are going to be laid off and some jobs will be outsourced. . Anyone who hopes to lead this state must be prepared to offer some serious solutions. Karen Handel is laying out a plan. If you don’t like it or disagree or think you have a better solution, make the argument but leave out the nastiness.

ACC 12 Booster

February 25th, 2010
6:43 pm

RGB: I don’t like to do political rhetoric either way (right or left), but that is a very good and valid point that you raised about New Jersey and how a quest for “revenue enhancements” can actually backfire on a government body that seeks to balance a budget through either income redistribution or the simple seizure of wealth and assets not- too-cleverly disguised as tax increases. Across-the-board tax increases only serve to crimp depressed economic activity even more by dissuading big and small business owners from hiring because they don’t know if they’re going to have to use that hiring and expansion money to pay higher taxes, promoting more broad economic uncertainty. California, New York and most notably, and notoriously, Michigan, have tried raising taxes to balanced their budgets and have instead driven business away in droves. Barack Obama may be a very well-educated man but for all the book learning, he has no knowledge of how to operate a business, hence all of the continued ideological talk of steep tax increases during a deep economic downturn. George W. Bush, on the other hand, had a background in business and for awhile successfully increased government revenues through tax cuts, but increased spending through the roof.

George W. Bush = tax cuts, spending hikes; Barack H. Obama = tax increases, even greater spending hikes. Looks like both parties have a severe problem controlling spending. I sure hope that Republicans have had their “Come to Jesus” moment and can balance a checkbook this time because Democrats can’t seem to understand how money is made. When we make money, the government makes money, too and the people in charge seem to be too blinded by ideology too see that.

Scarlet H.

February 25th, 2010
7:01 pm

Sounds to me like she has a personal problem with state employees. I think a serious candidate needs to be talking about adding 7,800 jobs in the private sector rather than cutting state government jobs just because you think that’s what some people want to hear. If you’re trying to lose weight you could cut off your arm and the scale would say you lost weight. But have you really done something that benefits you? No. She’s talking about tricking the scale by cutting off an arm not a long-term solution that benefits Georgia.

In due time

February 25th, 2010
7:04 pm

She wants to fire thousands of state employees but refused to take even one furlough day herself? That’s leadership?


February 25th, 2010
7:09 pm

I am sure a high school graduate who was apparently incapable of success in college would just love to fire a bunch of GSU, GT, and UGA professors.


February 25th, 2010
7:17 pm

Ask Karen about the jobs program for Andrew Claxton’s wife this past year.

Coastal Cavalier

February 25th, 2010
7:32 pm

There are a lot of comments about Karen Handle not going to college. Take a look at what all the college graduates (mostly lawyers) have done in state government.

A+ Teacher

February 25th, 2010
8:13 pm

I am impressed…did someone help her with the percentages!

R to D

February 25th, 2010
8:14 pm

Just don’t think I can vote for a R this time.

labor dept employee

February 25th, 2010
8:22 pm

Some of you are still missing another point. You’re talking about all of these laid off state workers will just add to more expense for the state because they’ll be drawing unemployment – well not if there are no state workers at the labor dept to file the unemployment claims. All these people that think state workers are expendable would be the first ones complaining when they can’t get some of the services state workers provide.


February 25th, 2010
10:16 pm

She is a clone of Sonny folks, everyone knows he is backing her…she will be a puppet on HIS string. Lets look at Austin Scott, because Oxendine cannot be trusted either. He is a snake!


February 25th, 2010
11:06 pm

Amazing all your lefty criticism, and since there is a 1.2 Billion dollar tax shortfall for reasons of poorest economy since great depression ( which our current leaders in Washington deepened) whats your plan? At least Karen Handel is jumping in with a plan! And gosh, people attacking her because she is Female, ah hah, I guess you feel a man could do a better job? Amazing comments from people that dont know better I guess.


February 26th, 2010
12:19 am

To come in and say that dimwit Karen Handel has a plan, with the plan being cutting state jobs is a complete joke. She should start by not running, period. This subhuman has the brains and intellect of a dead chicken. People currently in state govmint, including the ex-SOS are bunbling idiots and for anyone to vote for any of these dumb monkeys show a complete lack of wanting to solve problems at hand.

Why would any reporter waste their time with this twit is beyond me. She brings NOTHING to the table but complete and utter stupidity. If you folks want to continue living in the morass fine, just don’t expect me and other taxpayers in other states to bail out you near-do-wells because we’re sick and tired of seeing our federal tax dollars being sucked down the drain by a bunch of elected inbreds.

Bitter EX democrackkk

February 26th, 2010
6:25 am

You people need to realize that going to college is NOT the answer for some. ‘State’ education is for those who cannot learn on their OWN ! ! ! Ya’ll KNOW that Karen Handel is head and shoulders above her competition, and you are JEALOUS of her accomplishments BECAUSE shes not ‘PILED HIGHER AND DEEPER’ with edumacation! Screw you STUPID PEOPLE !!!

And YOU IDIOTS *THINK* that Royass Barnes is the answer??????????????????????????????


February 26th, 2010
6:28 am

10% cuts are small. Most state workers only make a 70% effort to begin with and the fear having to find a new job that requires so little will keep the retained 90% at a more reasonable production level.

Churchill's MOM

February 26th, 2010
6:44 am

We really have some crazy people posting here, The top 3 MEN, OX, Deal and Johnson are college educated CROOKS, the 1 WOMAN running is HONEST so you want us to vote for a crook because he has a college education. I like Handel’s plan, it is a good start but I would like it better if we were looking at a bigger personal cut, Anyone who has any contact with our state government knows it is over staffed.

hog wild

February 26th, 2010
7:10 am

She looks like Boy George in that photo. Is HRT not a covered procedure on the state’s healthcare plan?

Ken Stepp

February 26th, 2010
7:18 am

Good luck Karen. I’m ready to go door to door with yard signs.

say what?

February 26th, 2010
7:21 am

The Gold Dome would do better if the leaders would stop bashing metro Atlanta, Hotlanta, the Black Mecca. Karen Handel is wrong to say just fire 1000 people- which thoudand do you let go? I think SPA is worthless, the next person may believe Dept of Revenue is worthless. Just depends on your personal experiences with a group of employees as to waht each of us believe should go away.


February 26th, 2010
7:52 am

I read her press release. No where does it say an across the board 10% cut. You will also notice that she talks about zero based budgeting for all agencies. By implementing zero based budgeting you gain an understanding of what services the agencies are providing in every department. You can then consolidate or remove non-essential services. This leads to smaller government, and provides you with targeted cuts. Unlike others, she has already done it as Secretary of State.

I say a quote from her asking why does every agency need an HR department? Great question.

Real job growth happens in the private sector, not by larger government. She has also announced a program to grow small business.

Ticked Off

February 26th, 2010
8:07 am

Karen, you’re on the right track…….as in all (that’s right, I said ALL) businesses, and make no mistake, the Georgia State Government is a Business, there are employees that don’t do a whole lot to get that paycheck, there are employees that are there because they’re being protected and there are employees there that absolutely don’t have a clue as to what they’re doing. The managers of each department in state government know who these employees are (some of them might even be managers) and all of you out there who work for companies know this to be the truth. These are the employees who should be let go to help balance the state budget. I know, all you bleeding heart, liberal democrats out there will say….”these people need their jobs, they have families, they have to eat, etc., etc.”…….and to this I say, I hate to see anyone lose their jobs but, if you work for someone, you have to “Take Care Of Your Job”, i. e., do what you’re being paid to do. As to Karen Handel not having a college degree, there are a large number of degreed folks that wasted their time going to college so the point is moot. I’d rather have someone in that office that has a whole lot of common sense than some college educated idiot lawyer.

woodshed guy

February 26th, 2010
8:15 am

If Karen is talking about cutting the fat first, I can support her option; but not if she wants to cut the muscle (those who actually do something) first. Did A. Lincoln go to log college?


February 26th, 2010
8:23 am

Why has my party forsaken me. In the worst economy in decades Karen wants to help GA by firing more people. Is she crazy? I mean really why level of incompetence would suggest such a thing. State services including public service have already been cut to the bone because of Perdue’s leadership and the budget short falls.

We built fish ponds while we put veterans in teh street and closed schoos. Now this idiot wants to fire 10% of all state workers.

What has happened to my party. Where is a Reagen we we need him.. Between frat boys like Cagle and Richardson who can’t keep their pants up, and bumbling morons like Karen I can’t take much more. So what is next Karen, bring back the Gas Chamber for killing puppies.

I am exhausted.


February 26th, 2010
8:28 am

If a moderate politician with a resume that included serving as Secretary of State, Secretary of Labor, Adjuct General in the Army, Commander of Georgia National Guard, Volenteered in Viet Nam, and served under both Republican and Democratic Governors, was to run for Governor, you’d vote for him, right?

I mean you’d have to vote for a guy like that.

Especially if the same guy says that as Governor he won’t even accept a salary until Georgia’s unemployment is back under 7%. I mean, how could you not vote for a guy like that.

If only someone with those credentials would enter the race.



February 26th, 2010
8:37 am

you probably could rid govt of all lot of jobs if you eliminated political referrals, paid better for higher quality of workforce, and had good technology. in addition, you need clear directives and strategies from upper mgmt not subjected to the vascillation of let’s face it lot of political grandstanding, but this will never happen especially in ga where dumb seems to be confused with common sense….