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Posted: February 10, 2010 12:30 a.m.

Budget woes continue

The Georgia legislature completed days nine through 13 last week with attention continuing to focus on the budget, water issues and related items of interest.

Revenue to the state continues to drop. In January, revenue was 9 percent lower than January 2009, an unexpected reduction. The state’s income has dropped every month since May 2008, and we are now below the amount of money the state had in fiscal year 2004 (July 2003-June 2004). In his FY 2011 budget, Gov. Perdue planned for a reduction of $1.4 billion over FY 2010. We are currently at $1.6 billion less than last year.

Various state departments continue to brief the House and Senate on their proposed budgets for next year. With the exception of education, agencies have been ordered to bring us cuts in the 9-10 percent range from last year. We are hoping to be able to minimize the education cuts at 3-4 percent so as to lessen the impact on our schools, students and teachers. There is very little we can do to end the recession until the federal government abandons its reckless and destructive economic policies.

Gov. Sonny Perdue recently announced a comprehensive proposal that will encourage water conservation, reduce wasteful loss and promote innovation in both increasing the water supply and lessening demand. Many of the proposals in the Georgia Water Stewardship Act of 2010 are based on recommendations from the Governor’s Water Contingency Task Force, which met in the fall and winter and featured more than 80 business, government and environmental leaders from around Georgia.

Beginning in July 2012, the legislation requires efficient water fixtures in all new residential and commercial construction statewide as well as the installation of efficient cooling towers in new industrial construction. Also, for all new residential and commercial multi-unit projects, the bill will require sub-metering so that each unit will receive consumption reports and have incentive to practice conservation measures.

Also, Senate Bill 315 by Sen. Preston Smith, (R-Rome), passed the Senate. The Uniform Emergency Volunteer Health Practitioners Act "will allow the state to utilize the assistance of our neighboring states health practitioners and ensures Georgians will receive rapid medical attention," Smith said.

The situation in Haiti and the destruction following Hurricane Katrina provide ample evidence that we need a streamlined system. The measure sets out an expedited process for issuing temporary licenses to responders who are licensed in other states. Ten other states already have such a system in place.

For the week of Feb. 8, the legislature will be in session Monday through Thursday. As always, serving as your Senator is a great honor. Please feel free to contact me at your convenience.

Senator John Douglas, R-Social Circle, represents all of Newton and parts of Henry, Rockdale, Spalding and Walton Counties. He is Chairman of the Veterans, Military and Homeland Security Committee. Contact him at (404) 656-0503, john.douglas@senate.ga.gov or through his Web site, www.senatorjohndouglas.com

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