The news in Georgia has gone to the birds. Literally. The latest big debate in the state isn't centered on how lawmakers are tackling the much-hyped $1 billion budget hole or even how the Atlanta Braves look at spring training. The campaign creating the most buzz isn't political in nature - it's ornithological.
In the midst of one of the worst economic crises in memory, the Georgia General Assembly has to make some extremely difficult financial decisions. I don't envy their job.
The news is not good for Georgia on the economic front. It seems sales tax revenue is down approximately 10 percent from February 2009, and last year revenue was down ... well, let's say they were way down and leave it at that for now.
April 1, 2010 is the deadline for accepting applications for homestead exemption for tax year 2010. Applications can be accepted year round but those received after April 1st will be applied to 2011 taxes. You can file at either of the two offices of the Tax Commissioner: (1) 11 North College Street in Pembroke or (2) 185 Richard Davis Drive in Richmond Hill.
As a child who wanted nothing more than to grow up and become a journalist, I used to write stories for and draw out my own homemade "newspapers" to distribute to my family on Sunday mornings at breakfast. I tried to design my publications based on what I thought each of my family members might want to read. Dad's "newspaper" was about sports and my younger sister's often featured reports on Strawberry Shortcake and her social circle.
For the past two weeks, the Georgia state legislature has taken a working recess to address our budget crisis. At issue are both the FY 2010 amended and the FY 2011 general budgets.
The crowd gathered behind barricades in barely contained anticipation - and in some cases adoration - Tuesday prior to President Barack Obama's arrival at Savannah Technical College reminded me of Beatle-mania way back in the 1960s, when four charismatic musicians from Manchester, England, forever changed America's rock music scene.
Editor's note: State Rep. David Casas, R-Lilburn helped write this column.
The budget was the focal point and our top priority last week. Although the General Assembly was not in session, our time consisted of attending and giving input during the subcommittee meetings of the Appropriations Committee.
I am up to my gizzard with our governor and Legislature and assorted bureaucrats stomping around in public education with little regard for the consequences of their actions. Example: One school system in the state has been considering allowing the police to bring Tasers into the schools to quell unruly students.
Editor's note: Carter (R- Pooler) is reporting each week during the Legislative Session. The session began Jan. 11, and is expected to last until the latter days of March.
The Georgia General Assembly adjourned last Thursday, after day 20 of the 2010 legislative session. The Assembly has decided to take a two-week break from the legislative session to work on the daunting task of balancing the Fiscal Year 2011 budget.
The body is a little frail and he walks with a cane but the man still has the look of a warrior. His name is Charles Ector. He experienced the uglier side of society and with dignity and determination took prejudice head on.
The House and the state Senate voted Thursday to adjourn the current legislative session until March 8 to allow Appropriations Committee members to work full-time over the next two weeks on the budget proposal for fiscal year 2011, which begins July 1.
A majority of the House of Representatives Thursday approved an amended state budget for the remainder of fiscal year 2010. Overall state spending is reduced by $1.2 billion to reflect that state revenues have declined for 14 consecutive months.
There will be a public hearing Tuesday in Richmond Hill held by the Georgia Department of Transportation in reference to the proposed pipeline Kinder Morgan wants to install along the entire coast of Georgia. It is important that Coastal Georgia residents attend.
Lawmakers passed a nearly $22 billion spending plan that includes about $900 million in new revenues, consumed for the most part by school-enrollment growth, increasing retirement benefit-plan expenses for state employees and about $288 million to reduce an austerity cut for public schools. The 2016 budget also increases the local school-district cost of insurance for bus drivers and other non-certified school workers by more than $100 million, so it remains to be seen how much of the $288 million is used for teacher raises and undoing recession-era cuts.
Sometimes we forget that there are a lot of good people on this Earth doing good things. I was reminded of that by my friend, Jack Cookston, who recently had some medical issues that required him to cart around an oxygen tank wherever he went. (Happily, his health has improved and the oxygen tank is history.)
As expected, transportation funding and the governor's proposal to address persistently failing public schools dominated Georgia's legislative session. The measures passed, yet several opportunities to address critical economic issues were missed.
Carrie called the other day, and I grabbed the phone just as I was coming in from the garage. I dropped my purse at the foot of the stairs and sat down on a step to talk. No conversation with Carrie is ever short. Even her voicemails run three to four minutes.
I would love a good, old-fashioned rain - or, as we used to call it, gully washer - this week.
I just finished reading an article written by Valerie Tarico on Yahoo. The story was titled "Right-wing Christianity teaches bigotry: The ugly roots of Indiana's new anti-gay law."
Fortune Magazine has announced its list of the World's Greatest Leaders for 2015, and would you believe that I got snubbed again this year?
The Georgia General Assembly adjourned last week, and much was accomplished during a very busy session. The following are some of the bills that were agreed upon by both the House and Senate and have been sent to the governor for his approval.
With the 2015 General Assembly session ending last week, here's a list of the health-care winners and losers during the 40 days of the Legislature.
"The ultimate test of man's conscience may be his willingness to sacrifice something today for future generations, whose words of thanks will not be heard." - Gaylord Nelson, founder of Earth Day
Editor, I want to address the front-page, above-the-fold news story by Randy C. Murray, "Is there racial profiling in Liberty County?" (Wednesday, April 1).
Before Thanksgiving, as I "juned" - a mountain word Mama used to mean "moved faster" - around the kitchen preparing for company, it occurred to me that I should invite Jerry.
Many are aware that Faith Baptist Christian Academy of Ludowici recently experienced an investigation by the U.S. Homeland Security Department. We wish to express, first of all, our deep regret that such a situation has occurred. It has never been our desire to bring any undue attention or embarrassment to our ministry, our church or our city. We would, however, like to set the record straight on a few items.
Congress has developed a fondness for open letters when it comes to Iran. First came the warning shot signed by 47 Republican senators that touched off a storm of criticism. Not to be outdone, the House checked in with its own bipartisan and more diplomatically stated letter to the president, warning that its members must be satisfied with any agreement before they'll vote to reduce sanctions.