It's not like you can be too obvious in Georgia politics anymore, can you? Perdue and the Republican leadership, bless their little black hearts, barely even try to deny that lobbyists run the place. Pretty soon I expect the state to be claimed for naming rights, like college football games.
Ah, the Reynolds family and Republican leadership. When a Macon Democrat introduced an amendment that would take $2.14 million from the $25 million in state funds directed towards Jekyll Island State Park (to build a convention center/park in concert with and adjacent to Reynolds big development project for the publicly owned island), using it instead to for a veterans home in Milledgeville, well... they didn't take too kindly to that idea. Vets? Thanks but no thanks. Politically connected developers? Here's $25 million. Oh, and here's 25 more.
Perdue is one of the Southern Govs that made noise about rejecting the stimulus money. Belt tightening. Living within our means. Unless it comes to his friends who were handed a pretty sweet "public/private" development contract. The state can magically pony up $50 million for them. No problem.
And as they talk about eliminating the corporate tax, the Georgia legislature passes SB 31. Georgia Power will be allowed to charge consumers finance charges for nuclear reactors- before they even finish building them.
SB 31 allows Georgia Power to charge customers an estimated $1.6 billion in financing charges and an additional $400 million in related taxes between 2011, when construction of two nuclear reactors begins, and 2017, when the reactors are done.
The utility’s portion of the total estimated $14 billion cost will be $6.4 billion.
Score Georgia Power! (By the way, if you don't already, check out tondeestavern for a great blog on all these shenanigans)
“This happens because lobbyists are allowed to give, literally, completely unlimited gifts to senators and representatives,” said Rep. Rob Teilhet (D-Smyrna), who called SB 31 a “breathtakingly bad bill for Georgia consumers.”
Georgia Power hired some deeply connected lobbyists to help make its case, including former Senate Majority Leader Pete Robinson, former Senate Minority Leader Arthur “Skin” Edge and former Natural Resources Commissioner Joe Tanner.
Joe Tanner, Joe Tanner, where have I heard his name before? Oh yes- he's also the lobbyist for Linger Longer, the guy who helped Mercer and Jamie Reynolds get that amazing private/public partnership deal with the state to develop Jekyll Island State Park. Mercer is of course, John McCain's former national finance chair; Jamie is currently Eric Johnson's finance chair for Johnson's LT Gov campaign. Jamie and Joe used to be on the DNR together. How cute.
(more adorableness? Steve Croy- one of the more caustic members of the Jekyll Island Authority, appointed by Perdue, one who tried to paint Senator Jeff Chapman as a liar when he merely pointed out that the JIA was fudging numbers to try and sell the public on the dire need for more development on the island- is Casey Cagle's finance chair for his run at the Gov's seat)
About that belt tightening:
Sen. Robert Brown (D-Macon) tried to make a point on how the state spends money during final passage of the state 2010 budget Wednesday. He pitted money for Jekyll Island development against money for sick veterans.
Brown offered an amendment that would take out $2.14 million meant for Jekyll Island and give it to the Milledgeville domiciliary unit of the Georgia War Veterans Home.
Eighty-one veterans, all with health problems, lived at the domiciliary unit, which the Georgia Department of Veterans Affairs closed because of budget cuts.
The state did find money in the budget to help a politically-connected development company with plans to redevelop Jekyll Island. Legislators have put money in the budget to pay to upgrade the island convention center and build an ocean-side park as part of the project. The developers plan to replace older buildings along the beachfront with new hotels and condos.
Brown’s amendment failed and the budget passed.
The state found $50 million, btw, between this budget and the money appropriated last year. $50 million.
It was pretty obvious the amendment wouldn't pass. I mean, 81 sick vets compared to the Reynolds family? Duh. But why stop there!
Democrats tell us that Senate Appropriations Chair Jack Hill (R-Reidsville) is kindly informing his colleagues in the opposite party of the money he has yanked from projects in their districts, in retaliation for a Wednesday vote that pit Jekyll Island developers against a Milledgeville home for 81 veterans.
Senate Minority Leader Robert Brown (D-Macon) has been on a tear throughout the session over the closing of the veterans home because of budget cutbacks.
On Wednesday, Brown offered an amendment that would have taken out $2.14 million meant for Jekyll Island development — which has been placed in the hands of a Republican-connected firm. The cash would have been used to maintain the Milledgeville domiciliary unit of the Georgia War Veterans Home.
The amendment lost handily, and now Democrats appear to be paying the price.
So now not only won't they even entertain the notion that it might be better to care of our vets rather than millionaires, they are also screwing districts out of money for what I'm sure are needed projects for the same millionaires.
Bless their little black hearts indeed.