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Opinion articles for Screven County and surrounding areas.

Fewer state revenues means more cuts

After taking two weeks to closely examine the state’s budget, the Georgia House of Representatives reconvened on Monday, March 8. The week began with an announcement by Governor Perdue that state revenue collections for the month of February were down once again.  From February 2008 to February 2010, Georgia has had a 41.3 percent drop in revenue.

Focus on lowering spending

Current economic conditions have forced the Georgia House and Senate to spend the past two weeks focusing on ways to lower government spending.  Last year, when creating the Fiscal Year 2010 budget, the General Assembly reduced state spending by approximately $2.6 billion due to the economic downturn.  Unfortunately, we are still at a point where we must continue to cut services because of lagging revenues. 

Dave can teach you something about photography—and life, too

Interviewing Dave LaBelle, you’re not sure if you’re talking about photography or the gospel. Turns out, it’s both.
You’re also pondering life, something Dave photographs everywhere he goes — pretty much without restrictions.
“I look at life much like Ecclesiastes,” he said from his home near Chattanooga, Tenn. “There’s a time to laugh and there’s a time to cry, and that’s the way our lives are. If you have too much of one, you’re going to be out of balance, and it’s going to smother you.”

Passing ethics bill for school boards a quality decision

Between wave after crashing wave of economic strife reducing dollar after dollar to school boards throughout Georgia, House representatives passed legislation Monday that not only was needed, but was necessary for all.
Local school boards, like the one in Screven County, would have until October to adopt a code of ethics, and members who violate it could be removed by the governor, according to legislation.

Changes: They are a coming

“Because your whole world can change in 24 hours.”
That phrase is proclaimed by a radio broadcaster at the beginning of the 1994 movie “The Paper.” And at the end too.
I’m not going to ruin the 109 minutes in the middle of the flick, but I can promise you that the lives of many of the actors do, in fact, change.

Creating jobs here at home

We’ve been hearing a lot from the experts lately that the economy’s turning around. That’s certainly welcome news. But if you’re still one of the millions of Americans out of a job, indexes and trends don’t mean a whole lot.
What we need, as a country, is to focus on getting Americans back to work, and there’s no place where that’s more evident than in Georgia’s 12th Congressional District.

Dedicating time to the budget

The budget was the focal point and our top priority this 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. This week marks the end of the first of a two week recess.  Far from a recess or a break, we have to accomplish much as we devote all of our time toward the Fiscal Year 2011 budget.

An encouraging word can do wonders for the mind of a child

My grandson Alex, then 7 years old, had insisted that we sit and rest a few minutes after a couple of hours of intense touring of the Fernbank Museum of Natural History in Atlanta. Maybe it was I who insisted we sit down.
Everybody else in the family was at the Fox Theater, seeing a Christmastime performance of the famous Radio City Rockettes of New York City. They were watching beautiful girls kick up their long legs in perfect synchronization. Alex and I were looking at dinosaur parts.

‘Break’ isn’t a break for Georgia legislators

The Georgia General Assembly adjourned on Thursday, Feb. 18, after day 20 of the 2010 legislative session.  The General 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.  Although labeled a “break,” it is far from what will actually be taking place for the next few weeks.  The General Assembly will hold joint House and Senate Appropriation Committee meetings.

When winning doesn’t work, substitute an ostrich, a hose pipe & some fireworks

Not all sports teams have befitting nicknames.
Within our own fine state of Georgia college athletics, you will find Bulldogs, Eagles and Yellow Jackets. While fans of those higher learning institutions seem quite betrothed to them, those canines, birds of prey, and winged insects are names that honestly could have been chosen by colleges in Kansas, South Dakota and Idaho.
Although each one now has its own nostalgia, they weren’t named the Red Clay Kickers, Gnat Swarm, and Peach Fuzz.

State House expects to vote on the amended budget, set spending levels

Feb. 5 marked Legislative Day 13, putting us more than a quarter of the way through the General Assembly’s 40-day legislative session.
This week debates continued on the House floor, committees considered dozens of bills and the House Appropriations committee delved further into the budget. The House of Representatives is expected to vote on the amended budget next week, which will set state spending levels through the end of June.  

Looking back over years of do-it-myself jobs and frustration

People who can fix and build things with ease are a mystery to me.
My granddaddy, Papa Hudgins, built his own house, his own outhouse, his own chicken house, his own car house, his own smokehouse and his own barn, and all six were still standing decades later.
I didn’t inherit any of Papa’s good genes (although I do have a pair of his overalls). It took me three days to build a rabbit hutch. Trying to do it myself has been frustrating at times:

Leaders who can coax economic growth to this county, in spite of ourselves

Our community is in desperate need of an economic jolt. An injection into our veins of the fuel that propels a 747, if you please.
That is what this county seeks. Unfortunately, not all, at least through their generations and generations of actions or lack of actions, agree that Sylvania, Hiltonia, Newington, Oliver, Rocky Ford and Screven County as a whole require such a meteoric boost.

Budget process continues in House

On Thursday, Jan. 28, the House adjourned after our eighth legislative day of the 2010 session. This week consisted of short days of legislative action followed by committee hearings reviewing legislative initiatives.
Bills currently are being drafted and introduced by legislators and the committee process is beginning to take full swing as we debate introduced legislation before it is presented on the House floor for votes. The budget process is continuing. We meet as members of the Appropriations Committee to discuss the specifics of how state revenues can best be utilized.

Make life better for others

We are not going to sugar-coat it -- the economy stinks.
Government officials at the national level say the recession shows signs of releasing its evil clutches on the American public.
But, we all know that will not happen soon enough to help ease the intense pressure on those trying to make ends meet. The slow recovery of our nation will not reduce the suffering of those stricken with cancer. And the edging toward a better tomorrow cannot diminish the physical and emotion pain of the earthquake victims in Haiti.

Education a priority during budget process

Governor Perdue released his amended budget proposal for 2010 and for Fiscal Year 2011 on Friday of our first week in session. The Fiscal Year 2010 Amended Budget figure released was reduced to $17.4 billion. This includes between an 8 and 9 percent cut on most state agencies. Three additional furlough days for all state employees has been requested by the Governor in the amended recommendations. An option for individual school boards across the state is the choice to offset the furloughs by either using surpluses or cutting the budget in other areas.

The Fate of the Skates

I am not big on the whole concept of mass e-mail forwarding. My thoughts on that mode of communication is there’s one person who has no job, no kids and no reason to leave the basement who starts every “snowball” forwarding.

State Rep. Jon Burns: General Assembly begins with election of speaker

On Monday, January 11, 2010 we began the second session of the 150th General Assembly.  As our first order of business, the House quickly began the process of electing a new Speaker of the House and Speaker Pro Tempore, the two highest ranking positions in the Georgia House of Representatives.  After hearing the candidates, the House of Representatives elected David Ralston as House Speaker and Jan Jones as the new House Speaker Pro Tem. 


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