Saturday, March 13, 2010

Economics Pluribus Unum

I never attended the University of Georgia, but I own rental property in Athens. Therefore I drive back and forth on U.S. 78, a long enough trip to get to know every convenient restroom along the highway in Stone Mountain, Snellville, Loganville, Monroe and Between. Between is between Loganville and Monroe. In addition to driving U.S. 78, being an Athens landlord consists mostly of time spent as an accountant, property-tax payer, plumber, electrician, carpenter, painter, yardman, and plaintiff in magistrate court.

Now the Georgia Legislature is in session. Everybody duck. The General Assembly woke up one morning last week to discover it was a rainy day, tax revenues short by a billion dollars, since state tax collection is based on a percentage of money earned and spent by its citizens, who are not earning and spending as much these days, and property values, which are in decline. The Georgia Legislature must have missed the news on CNN that there was a recession going on outside.

So the University of Georgia has to cut its expenses about $60 million, by order of the Georgia Legislature. UGA administrators would eliminate more than 1,400 jobs, laying off individual teachers and entire departments. This following another $100 million in reductions over the past year and a half. About 1/3 of UGA's revenue comes from the state, most of the rest from student tuition and fees. Current tuition of $7,530 could rise to $9,789, according to a proposed 30 percent increase. A reduction of 500-plus faculty would also shrink the UGA student body by 1,500. Unessential university operations, such as 4-H programs across the state and half the Cooperative Extension offices may have to close, despite agriculture being Georgia‘s largest industry.

Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue called all the talk tuition hikes and new spending cuts “scare tactics and fear mongering.” He told a press conference, “Let me say unequivocally that under my administration, we will not dismantle a world-class university system that we spent over two decades to build up. It’s not going to happen on my watch.”

Whither the Stimulus Package? The banks and Wall Street got their bailout, took the money and ran, with bonuses. U.S. auto makers received money, and Toyota’s gas pedals got stuck, and Ford sales increased 43 percent. President Obama’s budget for the next fiscal year, which begins on October 1, would increase federal education spending by 6 percent and raise the maximum Pell Grant to $5,710, from the current $5,550. Not enough to cover tuition at the University of Georgia.

Why should I care? I have four apartments in Athens to rent to 1,500 fewer students and other people with 1,400 fewer jobs. I did not need to graduate from the University of Georgia with a degree in economics to learn whose portrait is printed on the face of dollar bills. I remember them well.


wayne said...

Yes, one way or another, it seems to hit us all. When will it ever be over?

Tina said...

The Georgia legislature never plans ahead to the best of my knowledge. They wait until things are horrible and then wave their arms and holler.

Paw Paw Bill said...

Budgeting in advance of tax-collection is like spending the lottery winnings before your ticket has been drawn.

pascal said...

I feel the Democrats and the Reactionaries are fiddling while Rome burns. The Dems are pandering to the "me" generation with national health care while the economy runs for the toilet. National health care and everthing else will be moot when the corpse of the economy floats to the surface. There will be no money to pay for food, much less medicine. So, if your existence becomes that precarious, you will be like combat soldiers: hoping, praying to live just 5 more minutes. The stimulus package is a big joke. I have seen exactly 3 signs saying a project was being funded by stimulus money. It is so apparent that as soon as the stimulus money went to the bankers and their cronies, the attitude became one of "to hell with you, we got ours!" I also think the Dems are crying crocodile tears with their firm desire to see the rest of the world get America's money, i.e., Al Gore"s European car deal and billions for "green" power turbines to be made in Belgium ...I believe. I am becoming very gloomy about the prosepects for the future.


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