Colleges Feel The Budget Pinch
- Gov. Sonny Perdue's order for state agencies to look for ways to cut more money from their budgets may compel the University System to consider limiting campus enrollments and requiring students to take some courses online, Chancellor Tom Meredith says. In a recent presentation to the Board of Regents, Meredith said the latest round of proposed budget reductions could result in those kinds of restrictions at the state's 34 public colleges and universities. Enrollment hit a record high of more than 233,000 last fall, and projections are that the number of students will continue to increase. But Meredith said that trend might have to be reversed in the wake of a memo from Perdue's budget director, Tim Connell, that ordered state agencies to identify 2.5 percent of the current year's budget and 5 percent of next year's budget for possible cutbacks.
- Nationally noted no-holds-barred political consultant Tom Perdue recently proposed to direct a senatorial campaign for former Gov. Roy Barnes and guaranteed Barnes would win. Sounds like an offer Barnes couldn't refuse - but he did. Meanwhile, Perdue has decided to drop out of the main circle of advisers for Republican Rep. Mac Collins' senatorial campaign because of commitments elsewhere. Perdue earlier resigned from state House Minority Leader Lynn Westmoreland's campaign because of differences involving personnel.
- From The New York Times:
Halfway through her second year in office, Ms. [Shirley] Franklin - the first woman to be mayor of Atlanta, and the first black woman to run any major city in the South - is tackling the intractable issues that preceded her and, barring something close to a civic miracle, will outlast her. A crumbling water and sewer system, pervasive homelessness and other signs of an eroding quality of life are threatening not only the city but all of metropolitan Atlanta, where the roads and mass transit systems, water supplies, undeveloped land and air quality have all been burdened by a skyrocketing population. On all these things, says Ms. Franklin, a 58-year-old Democrat, Atlanta does not control its own destiny.
It depends on neighboring, but historically unneighborly, suburban counties for political help, and on cash-short Republican administrations in the State Capitol and Washington for financial help.
- From the Augusta Chronicle:
"Schools will flunk students who miss deadlines for their homework assignments, as they should. Well, the Georgia school system should be flunked for being late with its key reports - not for one year, but for two. Gov. Sonny Perdue's office blames the late scores on the Illinois-based testing company. This is the same lame dog-ate-my-homework excuse his predecessor used last year. Hasn't the Department of Education learned anything since then?"
- Here's a footnote to the glowing report from the University of Georgia that contributions to UGA were up this year by an amazing 15 percent over last year, despite a downturn in the economy and the feud between President Michael Adams and Athletic Director Vince Dooley:
- Contributions to the athletics department were up 52 percent, probably as a result of its championship football season.
- Contributions to non-athletics causes were down 2 percent from the previous year.
In other words, Dooley's sports department carried the day in the fund-raising department and, according to one pro-Dooley analysis, "was responsible for 109.6 percent of the University's increase."
- From the Georgia Report: The Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) will add an eighth container berth to the cargo facilities at the Port of Savannah, a project it said will expand the port's capacity by 20 percent and has the potential to create more than 10,000 new jobs. Container berth 8 will include 2,100 feet in linear berthing space and 100 additional acres of container handling and storage area. When the facility is completed, the port will have available more than 9,800 feet in linear berthing space.
- Sixth District Rep. Johnny Isakson has introduced sunshine legislation to reduce last-minute, unnecessary spending during the annual appropriations process of the U.S. House of Representatives. Appropriations conference reports are thousands of pages long and usually include a significant amount of new projects that were not in either of the bills passed by each chamber. In addition, the reports are brought to the floor for a vote sometimes only a few hours after they are reported out of committee. This expedited process makes it very difficult for members to thoroughly review the bills for unnecessary spending. In an effort to shed light on the process and limit congressional pork, Isakson's bill requires that any appropriations conference report contain a separate statement that clearly sets out any new spending added by the conference committee. It would also require that this explanatory statement be printed in the Congressional Record 24 hours before consideration of the conference report on the floor of the House.
- Democratic Rep. Mike Snow has won the third (and he hopes the final) election challenge against GOP challenger Jay Neal by a narrow margin. The special election victory maintains the Democrats' 107-72 advantage in the Georgia House. Snow and Neal had squared off in two previous elections, each winning one and the courts tossing out the results of both. Speaker Terry Coleman, D-Eastman, campaigned for Snow, but Neal, a critic of Gov. Sonny Perdue, avoided association with the Republican governor.
- Democratic Labor Commissioner Mike Thurmond, the first African American elected to statewide office in Georgia in modern times, is considering challenging Republican Max Burns for the 12th District congressional seat. The district, which includes Athens, Augusta and Savannah as well as several rural counties, was drawn for a Democrat, but conservative Republican Burns stepped in and upset Champ Walker last year to win the new district's post. Burns reports collecting $309,000 so far for his re-election bid.
- Eric Tanenblatt, Gov. Perdue's chief of staff, has been designated a "Ranger" in President Bush's re-election campaign, meaning that Tanenblatt has raised at least $200,000 for next year's presidential election cycle, according to the Washington Post. Tanenblatt ran Bush's successful presidential effort in Georgia in 2000. His current role as a major fundraiser for Bush is bound to raise questions about his position as a full-time state-paid employee in the governor's office.
- Both Georgia Sens. Zell Miller and Saxby Chambliss worked behind the scenes to persuade the White House to pick Sea Island as the site for the 2004 G-8 Economic Summit. Said Sen. Chambliss: "Hosting the G-8 Summit will deliver a significant economic boost to our coastal communities and allow us the opportunity to showcase Georgia to the world. Our hard work advocating Sea Island to the White House has paid off."