House committee slaps a steep price on zero-based budgeting

Whether you’re in the state Capitol or a flea market, it is best not to show interest in a particular item – unless you want the other fellow to jack up the price.

Last month, the Senate voted unanimously to override Gov. Sonny Perdue’s 2010 veto of a bill to require zero-based budgeting – and dared the House to match it.

House Speaker David Ralston declined, and buried the override measure in a committee – saying his chamber already had an updated version of the bill in the works.

On Wednesday, that particular measure – HB 33 – had its first hearing before the House Budget and Fiscal Affairs Committee chaired by Chuck Martin, R-Alpharetta.

And knowing how badly the Senate wanted the bill, the committee jacked up the price – adding an amendment that would return the Legislature to the good old days when a single budget office provided numbers to crunch for both the House and Senate.

The system always seemed to benefit the House – which has first dibs on all budgetary matters.

Senate Republicans established their own budget office and staff during that brief period when Democrats – under Speaker Terry Coleman – still controlled the House. It has become a cherished symbol of the Senate’s independence on fiscal matters.

A dull topic has just been made more interesting.

Update: An old Capitol hand adds a crucial point. When the House voted 12 veto overrides at the beginning of the session in 2008, the only one that the Senate actually took up and voted on was the one putting the Senate Budget Office into statute.

House members saw themselves as out-maneuvered. So consider this a matter of payback.

By now, you know that the House on Wednesday tabled a move to require that Georgia’s driving test be given only in English – after the measure was effectively gutted.

But we’re also hearing that SB 7, a bill to bar illegal immigrants from receiving worker compensation benefits after on-the-job accidents, has been quietly buried.

We’re told that someone figured out that the bill might actually encourage companies to hire more unauthorized laborers, especially if they had to worry less about the safety of working conditions.

Our congressman from Marietta is making news on a pair of fronts this week. My AJC colleague Bob Keefe in Washington has this:

Four years before Rep. Phil Gingrey sponsored his latest legislation aimed at limiting medical malpractice awards, the former obstetrician was involved in a $500,000 settlement of a malpractice lawsuit.

Gingrey’s personal experience isn’t what ultimately drove him to sponsor legislation last month that would cap damages in malpractice suits and make it harder for patients to sue their doctors — but his firsthand knowledge of malpractice suits did factor into his decision, according to a spokeswoman for the Marietta Republican…..

Gingrey’s involvement in the 2007 malpractice settlement was first reported by The New York Times. Citing court records, the Times reported that Gingrey testified that he has been involved in at least three other malpractice suits during his nearly 30 years as a doctor.

The most recent lawsuit, according to the Times, involved a Georgia woman who claimed she lost her 15-week-old fetus after Gingrey and two other obstetricians he worked with failed to properly diagnose the woman’s appendicitis. She filed suit in 2002 — the same year Gingrey was first elected to Congress.

A number of people are also disappointed in the Marietta congressman’s decision to insult the memory of the late Ray Walston. (Google the name, young people.)

Last week, U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey organized a congressional trip to the U.S.-Mexico border with three of his Capitol colleagues. Afterwards, he talked with 11Alive’s Ted Hall about his interest in the issue:

“It’s not xenophobia on my part. If I had to choose from immigrants across the globe, my favorite alien would be our Hispanic and Latino residents coming from across the Southern border,” Rep. Gingrey said.

Alan Abramowitz, the Emory University political scientist, this morning has a piece in Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball, declaring that his models show that “regardless of who wins the Republican nomination, even modest economic growth and a mediocre approval rating in 2012 would probably be enough to give Barack Obama a second term in the White House.”

Check it out.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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12 comments Add your comment


February 10th, 2011
10:02 am

I’m 51 and I had to google Ray Walston, too. I remember few actor’s names, just the names of the characters they play. William Shatner is easy to remember, for instance, because he always plays himself. And I’m sure that if some were to ask Rep. Gingery who his favorite Martian was, he’d say it was Ray Walston. But the Congressman was talking about aliens on earth, not the ones off-planet.


February 10th, 2011
10:12 am

White america has abandoned obama in droves..and unlike Bush, the guy is a 0 on personal likeability. I see unemployment RISING(yes, in real terms..the fake Labor dept stat obama touts simply shrinks because more people fall off the end at 99 weeks right now, than sign up for initial claims), commodity(food) and fuel inflation is running at a 16% adjusted yearly clip last quarter(ask mubarak), and the democratic base is still depressed and moaning over the loss of little keithy olberjerk. The republicans may run the 7 tainted dwarves, but if they just stay out of Hussein’s way, he will destroy himself before november 2012..never stop your enemy from committing suicide.


February 10th, 2011
10:13 am


[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jim Galloway, Atlanta News Feed. Atlanta News Feed said: AJC: House committee slaps a steep price on zero-based budgeting [...]


February 10th, 2011
10:18 am

I am all for shuttering the senate budget and evaluation office..duplication of funding and efforts..It may just be a 9 person staff, but I would be shocked if the tab to the taxpayers for the redundant budget analysis that is also done in the house, was under $5mil

Reality Check

February 10th, 2011
10:44 am

The Workers comp issue is very simple–workers comp won’t pay, but the employer is responsible for medical and a fine.

Last Man Standing

February 10th, 2011
10:47 am

Chris Christie for President, 2012!

WE have lost our way

February 10th, 2011
10:49 am

Why does it matter? Both house and senate do not know what they are doing.It looks like a bunch of monkey’s doing what ever they can find to mess up.State Government is in sad shape.

Reality Check

February 10th, 2011
10:57 am

Jim, your picture reminds me of your Dad! One more thing–with all the talk about education and Race to the Top, and cheating–maybe you should share Mrs. Pendley’s letter again. Everybody could read at the Meadows Elementary and M.D. Collins High. Maybe the answer isn’t reinventing the wheel but “going old school”!


February 10th, 2011
3:56 pm

As a fiscal officer for a state agency, I can tell you the Senate Budget Office has always been a bunch of meddling clowns. None of their staff have ever worked in a state agency but feel like they are smarter than those who run the agency. Much of the mess that is state government can be attributed to the Senate need for having its own and the idiots in the Senate Budget Office.


February 11th, 2011
4:18 pm

If we don’t trust politicians to put limits on prices or wages, why would we trust them to put limits on jury award?. Amendment VII to the U.S. Constitution (yes, a part of the Bill of Rights) promises trial by jury in civil actions. I trust justice from my peers. But justice from politicians – please!!!

Write your state senators and representatives. Limits imposed by politicians is a limit on justice.


February 11th, 2011
4:42 pm

ZBB requires an incredible amount of time, energy, paper work and money. Has anyone currently advocating for this actually tried it out in real life? I can’t imagine anyone who has actually tried it thinking this is a good allocation of resources for a state that is swimming in a pool of red ink. It’s been 40 years since ZBB first came on the scene. Surely there has to be a more effective and efficient budgeting method out there by now.