As difficult as last year’s budget was, gubernatorial candidate Eric Johnson and candidate for school superintendent Kathy Cox predict the state’s budget crisis will worsen in the upcoming fiscal year.
Johnson and Cox were the guest speakers at the April 19 meeting of the Barrow County Republican Party. Cox was invited to address the local party members after the originally scheduled speaker, insurance commission candidate Harold Logsdon, was unable to attend the meeting.
According to Johnson, the next elected governor will face a budget deficit of over $2.5 billion.
“That’s going to make this budget look like a cake walk,” he said.
Johnson said zero based budgeting and prioritization of services would be critical.
“It’s time to go back to the very basic services of government, do those right and let everything else fall by the wayside,” he said.
With a multi-billion dollar deficit looming over the state, Johnson said government interference from Washington was creating an even greater burden for the taxpayers of Georgia.
Specifically, Johnson said the recently passed health care reform legislation would cost Georgians $1 billion when implemented. He warned that the only way to pay for the additional costs would be to slash education, the largest component of the state budget.
“That’s a serious issue for taxpayers of this state,” he said.
Johnson said he fully supports Governor Sonny Perdue’s appointment of a special attorney general to challenge the constitutionality of the recently passed health care law and is looking forward to a Tenth Amendment challenge against the federal government.
“It might be water, it might be guns, it might be healthcare, but they have overreached their bounds,” he said. “We need to stop that overreaching in Washington.”
In the meantime, Johnson warned that the only way to prevent deeper cuts in education and other services would be through tax increases.
Kathy Cox, two term school superintendent and candidate for a third term, agreed that the budget crisis poses a serious problem for education funding within the state.
Calling the crisis “unprecedented,” Cox said the state needed a proven leader.
“It is going to take experienced leadership at the helm of this ship to get us through this storm,” she said.
Though funding has already been cut and further cuts may be necessary, Cox said the state is heading in the right direction in terms of educating its students to be competitive both nationally and internationally.
Cox said as school superintendent, she has focused on improving student achievement and setting higher expectations for all students.
In addition to touting her track record as school superintendent, Cox said she has a suggestion for increasing educational funding. Cox said an increase in lottery ticket prices would raise money and would be a “taxation of the willing.”
Cox will face Republicans John Barge, Roger Hines and Richard Woods in the July 20 primary. The winner will face Democrat Beth Farokhi or Brian Westlake along with Libertarian candidate Kira Willis in the general election.
Johnson faces an even more crowded field with seven Republicans currently vying for the gubernatorial nomination. Voters will choose between Johnson, John Oxendine, Karen Handel, Nathan Deal, Ray McBerry, Jeff Chapman and Austin Scott in the July primary. Roy Barnes, Thurbert Baker, David Poythress, Dubose Porter and Carl Camon are competing for the Democratic nomination. For the Libertarians, John Monds is the lone candidate.
The next meeting of the Barrow County Republican Party will be held May 17, 2010 at 7:30 p.m. Darwin Carter, candidate for agriculture commissioner, and Melvin Everson, candidate for labor commissioner, are scheduled to speak. The Barrow GOP meets at the Winder Woman’s Club located at 15 West Midland Avenue in Winder. The meetings are open to the public.
For more information, visit www.barrowgop.com or join the Barrow County Republican Party on Facebook.