This is a response to The News-Times editorial, "No pressing need to amend Georgia Constitution" (Sept. 8):
This November, voters have an opportunity to save tens of millions of taxpayer dollars and create thousands of jobs by voting "yes" to Amendment 4. And contrary to the Sept. 8 editorial, the Legislature will never have to spend a dime of taxpayer dollars to do it.
Currently, our state spends more than $200 million on utility bills alone. Heating, cooling and keeping water in every state building - from classrooms to corrections - is expensive. If passed, Amendment 4 will save our state millions in utility costs. Here's how it would work:
The state of Georgia could bid out contracts to companies who specialize in retrofitting aging and inefficient buildings with new energy-efficient utilities, including lighting fixtures, HVAC equipment and water-saving appliances.
The company must guarantee that the state will save money on utility bills. These guaranteed savings will then be used to pay for the new energy-efficient utilities over a period of years. In other words, taxpayers will not finance these improvements - the savings from the utility bills will. If for some unforeseen reason, the savings come up short, the energy company will be responsible for the deficit - not the state.
Amendment 4 will allow Georgia to do what the private sector and our neighboring states already can, and it will create more than 11,000 new jobs in our state and could ultimately save the state more than 50 million taxpayer dollars a year.
Approving this initiative ought to be simple. If your kitchen sink was leaking, you would want to fix it to keep your water bill down.
That's what Georgia wants to do, but can't. And until voters pass Amendment 4, taxpayer dollars will continue to go down the drain.
State Rep. Ben Harbin
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