Ric Latarski - Budget battle means bad conduct

It seems Gov. Sonny Perdue is unhappy with the state budget as approved by the General Assembly for next year and is threatening to veto the measure because it is out of balance with his projections.


At first blush, one would have to wonder what the Guv's projections are. Given how well he's shown to be on top of things, it's worth wondering why his projections would be more accurate than, say, those of the featured dancer at the Cheetah III.

Anyway, the Guv estimates revenue will be down and because his call for additional spending cuts was ignored by the legislature, he might put a spike to the budget.

The House version of the budget calls for $17 million more in expenditures than the Guv's revenue estimates, although House leaders say this is due to revenue going to pay off bonds for the Georgia Ports Authority.

In the grand scheme of things, $17 million isn't much and if the Guv can just get his Come-to-Georiga-and-Fish campaign up and running, we could make that up in no time.

The Guv wants to reduce spending. The House wants to eliminate property taxes on cars and the state millage for property tax on homes. The Senate wants to cut income taxes by 10 percent over five years.

Generally speaking, when the leaders of the two sides of the legislature and the governor start arguing over tax and spending cuts and what will help the average citizen the most, we are all in trouble.

Tax cuts seldom end up helping the people who need them the most and spending cuts always hammer programs that tend to help the most people. Such is the way of guvmint.

It's not that tax cuts are not needed or spending cuts are not called for, but when all these folks want to help us, we need to bury whatever money we have left in the back yard and declare ourselves stateless persons.

No doubt there is enough pork in the budget that if you took it out you could open a chain of barbecue restaurants across the state. The problem is, what's a good barbecue sandwich for one person is a sloppy mess for another.

Every politician wants to be able to say he helped cut waste from government by eliminating an administrative bohunk program full of patronage appointments - as long as that program was not in his district or employed a relative as the director.

Announcing you are going to cut taxes is a great attraction to the voters and causes more excitement than yelling "fire" in a crowded room. This is touted as making guvmint more accountable to the taxpayer.

Normally this loss of revenue from tax cuts is cited as the reason why the state park system has to be shut down or why a school program is slashed. Seldom does it mean the elimination of one of the aforementioned bohunk programs.

Money is the eternal problem in many relationships. When the governor and General Assembly start squabbling over money, it reminds me of a bad marriage headed for divorce court.

Both sides are more determined to have the last word and get the final twist of the knife, and blame someone for all the problems, than they are in resolving their differences and solving their difficulties.

No doubt the government could be more efficient in the use of the taxpayers' money. Waste in guvmint has turned into an art form, with the results being a picture that looks like one of those things created when an elephant blows paint from its trunk onto the side of a building.

In the same way, the art form of many tax cuts looks like the painting created by the drunken monkey.

The reasons for these final pictures are myriad, but they all have one thing in common: the elected officials.

Despite all the silliness and nonsense that comes with the General Assembly, their primary mission is to establish a budget and then execute that budget in the most effective and efficient manner to operate the state in the best interest of its citizens.

I understand this idea is deeply rooted in the Twilight Zone but that does not mean it should not be the goal of our leaders.

When elected officials put more emphasis on their own self-aggrandizement and massaging their own egos than doing the work of the people, we all suffer.

Perhaps we should deal with them the way we do with squalling petulant children. If the General Assembly and the Guv will get together, work out their problems and play nice, we will buy them all an ice cream cone.

It might not work but its worth a try, because if we threaten to sit them in the corner under a dunce cap, we will find ourselves quickly running out of caps and corners.