It took about 15 nanoseconds for the complaining to start when word came that Gov. Sonny Perdue was releasing funds for a new Columbia County technical school.
No, the complaining wasn't from anyone around here. Our whole community is ecstatic -- as epitomized by Probate Judge Pat Hardaway, who says "This is the best thing to happen to Columbia County in a long time."
Led by the Atlanta paper, the carping about "pork-barrel politics" came from those who no longer hold power in the state Capitol, and it started immediately after the first hints that Perdue was planning Thursday to announce funding for projects around the state. Discouraged by the leaks that upstaged the announcement, Perdue now may forego the formalities altogether.
As long as Columbia County gets the money, that's fine. The only thing the nay-sayers will have cost us is a few minutes of glory with the governor.
The funding, $4.6 million for a Columbia County satellite of Augusta Technical College, is one of several projects in the 2004 state budget. Georgia's governor could have killed any funding item with his line-item veto, and indeed many projects were axed. For those projects that were deferred, however, Perdue was sending the message that the intention was good, but that the state would have to wait until the economy improved.
Well, the economy has improved, and as local lawmakers told Columbia County commissioners last week, the state budget this year will finally gain a little breathing space after two years of real cuts. That's why Perdue is releasing the tech school funds, along with money for other projects around Georgia.
Yet the complaints are branding those projects as pure pork. Predictably, most of the grumbling is coming from characters on the losing side of the recent capital drama in which Republicans swept to control of the Legislature.
But guess what: These projects were approved in the 2004 session of the Legislature, when Democrats still controlled the state House and bottled up any legislation its leadership didn't like. So Columbia County's tech-school got its well-deserved money from a divided, bipartisan system -- it wasn't rammed through by a one-party government.
Besides, we don't recall these sad sacks whining about budget priorities when the Democrats were picking taxpayers' pockets for a bronze mule statue in south Georgia, or a giant recreational lake near Atlanta -- examples of the many real one-party pork projects pushed through under the state's former one-party leadership.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.