Georgia Unfiltered

Search This Site

02 October 2008

Guest Blogger: State Rep. Stephanie Stuckey-Benfield

Our next crisis could be averted with a little bit of planning

Concerning the latest shortage of gasoline in Atlanta, Tex Pitfield, president and CEO of Saraguay Petroleum, in a recent editorial said, "I advised Gov. Sonny Perdue of the impending crisis on Sept. 11, well before Hurricane Ike made landfall. I suggested that the state implement rationing of some form or, perhaps, limiting purchases at the pump. While he acknowledged my concerns, my suggestions fell on deaf ears."

I don't know Mr. Pitfield but like many Georgians I share his frustrations. Whether it is calling off school late in the afternoon on a Friday and making parents scramble at the last minute to find daycare, or not implementing the gouging law until gas prices skyrocket, our Governor never has a plan in place for such emergencies and lacks a sense of urgency.

Another example is our current fiscal crisis. By ignoring the need for a special session to prioritize the budget when the state is facing an almost $2 billion deficit the Governor is putting Georgia in a ditch. Instead, he sees taking a team of bureaucrats to Europe at cost of $100,000 to the taxpayers to look at trains as more important. Once again, something that could help avert a crisis has fallen on deaf ears. If we wait until January when the General Assembly goes back into a regular session to tackle this problem, our efforts are going to be even more impaired by having to dig ourselves out of an even larger budget hole.

Unfortunately, never having a plan in place and no sense of urgency has led to some awful policy too. Probably the most egregious is when our country is fighting two wars Governor Perdue believes it is acceptable to evict 81 veterans from the Georgia War Veterans Home in Milledgeville, for a savings of $2.7 million. Meanwhile, projects such as a $7.3 million horse park expansion at the Agri-Center in Perry and $19 million for the Go-Fish program, both in the Governor's home county, continue to move forward. He has also proposed eliminating the $428 million homeowner tax relief grants that could cause a $300 property tax hike from the state.

Georgia is a better state than this and one can only hope that the next crisis can be averted with a little bit of planning.

State Representative Stephanie Stuckey-Benfield (D - Atlanta) represents portions of DeKalb County --including the neighborhoods ofAvondale Estates, Candler Road, Coumbia Drive, Fernbank, Forest Hills, Knollwood, Midway, Oakhurst, South Decatur, Wadsworth, and Winona Park-- in the Georgia General Assembly.