Say you’re the governor of a large Southern state and the pensions that you and your predecessors have promised are killing the bottom line.
Bankruptcy for states should be an option, says former U.S. House speaker and possible 2012 presidential candidate Newt Gingrich.
In an article published in Pension and Investments, a spokesman recently confirmed that Gingrich is working “inside and outside of Congress” for federal legislation that would give troubled states the right to declare themselves financially insolvent – and renege on pension and other benefits.
Proponents of the measure — which include Americans for Tax Reform, a Washington lobby group that fights tax increases — said the legislation is desperately needed to clear the way for struggling states to slash costs before they go belly up, and should be regarded as a preemptive move that could preclude the need for massive federal bailouts.
“It’s in the short-term and long-term interests of government workers and taxpayers to start those reforms now, rather than having to pick up the pieces after a crash landing,” ATR President Grover Norquist said in an interview.
Gov. Nathan Deal has quickly gotten religion when it comes to the weather. From AccessNorthGa.com:
Deal said Sunday while in Gainesville for a church service for him and first lady Sandra Deal [that] he would meet with the state DOT board this week to look for options….
“Hopefully we can learn some things,” he added. “I think one of the things we can learn is that we can have contractors on stand-by that we could call during these very difficult and unexpected situations and hopefully that would be one of the outcomes.”
Sonny Perdue has been gone just over a week. And already the former governor has lost control of the facts.
As he walked out the door, Perdue granted a half-dozen exit interviews to defend his eight-year legacy. Education was a major sore point.
Said Perdue in an interview with Denis O’Hayer of WABE (90.1 FM):
”I think we’ve had a huge transformation go on in education. Graduation rates, for one thing. Around 63 percent when we came in eight years ago. Over 80 percent now. Those are huge numbers to change.”
But in an overlooked (i.e., written during the Ice Jam) post by my AJC colleague Maureen Downey, Fran Millar of Dunwoody, the Republican chairman of the Senate education committee, admitted that Perdue’s graduation rates have been pumped up:
“Do I believe we have overstated the graduation rate in this state? Absolutely,” he said. “But I do think the important thing is that we made progress in this state.”
However, when the new methodology is used, Millar says, “There is no doubt in my mind that the rate is going down. I hope it is 10 points less. If it goes down beyond 10 points, many of us will be very, very disappointed.”
To add insult to injury, the New York Times this morning takes a look at the fishing museum in Perry, Ga., that Governor Perdue pushed through in 2007:
“Hindsight is 20/20, but we should have seen this one coming,” said State Senator George Hooks, an Americus Democrat on the budget-writing Appropriations Committee.
With a large state deficit looming, Go Fish has become a cautionary tale about the long-term ramifications of prerecession decisions. The state must make [$1.6 million] bond payments for the museum for the next 16 years. Meanwhile, cuts are being proposed to the state’s college scholarship program, health care and the prison system.
“We simply can’t afford it — not in this economy,” said Debbie Dooley, the Georgia coordinator for the Tea Party Patriots, who likened the museum to Alaska’s infamous “Bridge to Nowhere.” “When you want to talk about wasteful spending in Georgia, the first thing everyone brings up is Go Fish.”
As part of its MLK holiday coverage, ABC News on Monday took a 50-year look at the integration of the University of Georgia. Good vintage video of a not-so-pretty time in state history:
So far as we know, no members of Congress reported anything untoward during their weekend sessions with constituents – other than a surplus of high-flown dialogue. From the Associated Press:
At a [Saturday] morning event at Barrow’s district office in Savannah, four police cruisers sat outside and two federal Homeland Security officers monitored the hallway as some 50 constituents packed in to listen, ask questions or seek the congressman’s help navigating the federal bureaucracy.
“There are normally about a dozen people at these,” Barrow said as his staff scrambled to accommodate the crowd.
Jeanne Seaver, a Savannah tea party leader who had sought the Republican nomination to challenge Barrow last year, attended as show of support following the bloodshed in Tucson the weekend before.
“We are very concerned for your safety,” Seaver told the congressman. “Thank you for being brave and coming out and meeting with us.”
Barrow demurred, saying he doesn’t believe he or other members of Congress are under any increased threat.
The shooting in Arizona, he said, was carried out by a single mentally disturbed individual and was not inspired by political ideology or partisan vitriol.
“I’m not at all concerned about this and you shouldn’t be,” he said.
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider