Don’t shoot yourself in the foot

Published 7:32 pm Friday, March 12, 2010

Recently, there has been an enormous controversy over the proposed $300 million in cuts to education and the University System of Georgia.

When Sonny Perdue told the press that, “300 million in additional cuts will not happen on my watch,” it was a sign that his ear is still attentive to the people. My issue, however, is why was this mandated to begin with, because it seems to me to be strongly counter-intuitive. Let me explain.

Three-hundred-million dollars translates into one thing, and that is the fact that more jobs will be lost in a state that continues to suffer. There is not enough “waste” in the university system to make up this amount on top of the $260-plus million already being looked at. For the state to intend to cut education by half a billion dollars, in my humble opinion, is completely irrational.

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Where the rubber meets the road is when you consider that these cuts not only reduce the jobs. The counter-intuitive impact from less jobs translates into higher unemployment, higher state subsidy demands, less income tax revenue, less dollars being recycled in the state to generate sales taxes, and people suffer or leave the state, thereby reducing the tax base.

To add insult to injury, putting the University System of Georgia in a position where they have to even consider these cuts illustrates a “tunnel vision” approach in the legislature where they are simply trying to make the numbers match and not considering the peripheral effects that affect both real people and the generation of taxes.

For the sake of adding deeper insult to injury, let’s also consider that when you put the University System in a position where you cut programs or reduce enrollment, you also reduce the federal funds that come into the state through Title IV funding. These funds come into the state to assist in paying tuition and fees for students and get recycled in the state through the sales of books, school supplies, tuitions and other college-related items. Why would you send down a mandate that causes the University System to consider reducing enrollment due to budget constraints that eliminate jobs, which in turn causes a reduction in training, which in turn causes a reduction of trained and educated tax-paying citizens, all the while reducing the federal dollars that come into the state and diminishing the tax base, all for the sake of numbers to match on paper.

The two people in charge of sending this mandate down strongly need to break from the tunnel vision and see the real world that is affected by decisions made in their governing. I am appreciative, however, of Perdue’s statement that this will not happen on his watch. At least that is some silver lining in the controversy.

I encourage anyone reading this to cut it out and send it in to your representatives. These points need to be considered. Education does not need to be punished. Education needs to be fueled in order to create a more industrially driven, agriculturally successful, and educated body of citizens that support the state’s ability to govern itself through the attraction of industry providers that comes from a well-trained and educated workforce.

Don’t shoot yourself in the foot to make things balance on paper if they don’t balance in the real world.

Jason SellarsBainbridge, Ga.