Recently, state Rep. Ben Harbin boasted about 2008's legislative session (guest column, April 27).
I beg to differ. There are 182 school systems in Georgia. This legislative session, six had their funding cut. Columbia County was one of them, receiving $1.2 million less.
Can certain departments spend more wisely? Sure. But with new schools opening in August and with the constant need to purchase new textbooks and technology, coupled with the high-ranking legislative firepower Columbia County has, the cut was inexcusable. For Harbin, the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, to brag about the cut is insulting. ...
Recently The Augusta Chronicle lauded the $95,000 in grants secured by Harbin. If I take your housing and transportation money for the month, but give you $3 earmarked for a loaf of bread, how would you feel? Harbin fought hard for $150,000 to repair a chimney in Augusta, and for $300,000-plus for the pork-pile known as the Augusta Golf and Gardens, an amount twice what AG&G asked for.
House Bill 114 states that if you drive on a public road in Georgia you must wear a seat belt; drivers of pick-up trucks are currently exempt. Each year we do not have a comprehensive seat belt law is another year we do not qualify for $20 million in federal highway funds. That is $20 million of annual tax relief for Georgians. HB 114 was not even discussed this session.
People should keep as much of their money as possible. GREAT, supported by Harbin, is the most inane proposal that I have heard in a long, long time. With GREAT, property tax will be eliminated and replaced with an additional state sales tax. However, under GREAT, all funding for our schools will come from Atlanta.
In other words, the money you pay to Kay Allen, who then gives a check to Regina Buccafusco and Clay Whittle, will be rerouted to more bureaucrats in Atlanta, who will give us what they think we should have. Regrettably, Harbin embraces this. I am in favor of keeping the money as close to home as possible - period! For the past three years, we were promised tax reform but have yet to see it.
Georgia is experiencing a drought. Why did it take a drought to conclude that the Tennessee River is actually in Georgia? Why did it take so long to decide to build some reservoirs to harvest more than the current 1.5 trillion gallons of the 5 trillion gallons of yearly rainfall? Probably because the Legislature was busy debating Florida Gator license plates and the Bowl Championship Series. Friends, that's where the priorities are. We need common sense and focus in Atlanta. ...
In Harbin's column, he makes reference to some things that affect Columbia County indirectly. But logic and facts reveal otherwise. In his zeal to do whatever House Speaker Glenn Richardson tells him to do so he can keep his chairmanship, he has neglected his constituents. This is evidenced by his refusal to communicate with constituents, his employers. He has ignored us in a major way. Let's return the favor on July 15 and vote for a true public servant who knows why he is there and who he is there for. I look forward to representing us with dignity and honor in Atlanta.
Lee Benedict is a Republican candidate for the state House District 118 seat currently held by Ben Harbin.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.