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Georgia's Looming Budget Storm

State Senate Candidate Josh Belinfante on the State Budget and the challenges it will present to Georgia's next State Senator.

Storms are on the horizon. Friday, it was announced that Georgia’s Medicaid program is facing an over $400 million deficit, which equals 2% of the current state budget. This is more than three times the State Patrol’s total budget, and about as much as the collective budgets of the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Georgia Bureau of Investigations, and all of Georgia’s Technical Colleges. 

This deficit will be difficult to address, because Georgia’s budget already spends less per capita than any state in the nation. The bulk of general fund spending goes to education (53%); healthcare, including federally-mandated Medicaid (22%); our justice system and public safety (8.6%); and paying down bonds (5.6%) at the lowest interest rates due to Georgia’s status as one of only eight states with a highest-achievable triple-A bond rating. Of note, roads are built with gasoline tax funds that flow directly to the Georgia Department of Transportation and are not part of the general fund. Our constitutionally mandated balanced budget requirement means that every decrease in revenue must be matched by an equal decrease in spending. 

The Medicaid deficit is only one of the fiscal traps waiting on Georgia’s State Senator from the 6th District. I believe I’m ready to help guide us through the
storm: I’ve done it before as Governor Perdue’s former Chief Counsel and healthcare policy advisor. I’m a proven deficit hawk who is the only candidate with actual experience cutting the state budget by over 15%. I also know our Medicaid budget and, as one of the attorneys selected to represent Georgia in the legal challenge to Obamacare, I know how to face its hefty price tag.  In fact, the Atlanta Business Chronicle described me as the “go-to guy on Georgia
healthcare policy and legislation.” I’ll promise you real answers and
deliberative and thoughtful expertise, not easy campaign rhetoric.

Unlike the other candidates in the Republican primary, I will not call for raiding the general fund to pay for transportation.  Facts show why that idea is seriously flawed: the proposed improvements at Georgia 400 and 285 alone are projected to cost $112.5 million in just state dollars. That’s more tax dollars than those used to fund the entire operation of Attorney General Olens’ Law Department and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources combined.  Consequently, funding any significant project from the general fund could leave us defenseless in our courts and shut down our state parks and lakes, not to mention the impact on Georgia’s schools.  Nor will I advocate for as a means to raise revenue, because Article I, Section 10, Paragraph 2 of the U.S. Constitution forbids it.  Such options are either bad policy or unconstitutional.

Given the coming storm facing Georgia taxpayers, now is not the time for on-the-job training.  We need experienced and conservative leadership that can hit the ground running.  I’ve helped steer our state through similar rough waters in the past, and I’m asking for your vote to allow me to help again in 2013.

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C.J. June 19, 2012 at 06:48 PM
RE: "Georgia’s budget already spends less per capita than any state in the nation." We don't have a spending problem; we have a revenue problem. Maybe the guys under the gold dome would consider eliminating the special interest tax breaks that have been handed out over the course of the last decade or so for those who have been spending unlimited amounts to wine-and-dine them and pay for their family vacations. Special interest tax breaks mean higher taxes for everybody else.

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