In these tough economic times, the university system, which provides more than $70 billion in revenue in Georgia and employs more than 69,000 workers is under pressure to cut expenses so the state can have a balanced budget.
The boards of regents and the chancellor, Erroll B. Davis Jr., have submitted sweeping cuts, but none deep enough to hurt their own pocketbooks.
The chancellor himself lives in a state-supported house that is about to go through $700,000 in renovations. This work has not been cut. Instead the great leaders of our education system, who should be using this opportunity to get rid of the deadwood in the system and to adjust their own salaries and benefits, started a campaign to stir up the families of children in the system. Their scare tactics included telling families that the cost of sending students to a school of higher learning in Georgia in the future was going to be prohibitive. This has fallen on deaf ears with the legislators as they are also hearing the cries of folks who have no jobs or who can't feed their families. Educational system leaders have garnered no sympathy from the legislature or the general public for this ploy.
This week the leaders of the university system presented cuts that included ending all 4-H programs and terminating half of the extension service offices across the state.
The regents know very well that this threat is nothing but a sham. The legislature would be foolish to cut programs that help support a $70 billion industry which employs more that $69,000 workers in our state.
Agribusiness was and still is the backbone of stability in this state. 4-H is also much more than farming and animal husbandry. It teaches life skills that are harder and harder to obtain in schools focused on standardized testing.
It is a moral obligation for the tax payers of our state to ensure that food is available for all of its citizens. It is not an obligation, however, to pay for the excesses (i.e. new kitchen cabinets) in the education system created by over-educated fools who have learned over the generations to soak the Georgia taxpayer in the name of higher learning here in Georgia.