Republican Bill Would Require State Approval for Federal Funds
(APN) ATLANTA — As the Georgia House Appropriations Committee gears up to tackle the state budget and the transportation bill that will no doubt dominate this legislative session, a bill worthy of note is on the committee’s back burner––where cities and counties hope it will stay.
The Fiscal Accountability Act, introduced by State Rep. Scot Turner (R – Holly Springs) would prevent any “state authority, agency, board, bureau, commission, department, office, public corporation, or other entity of state government,” from receiving federal funds without approval from the General Assembly.
The City of Atlanta and cities and counties in the Metro Atlanta area routinely receive federal funds, especially in the areas of affordable housing and social services.
Federal funds made up twelve billion dollars of state agency spending in 2012, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper. Local governments expend millions more.
On his website, Turner promises he is “fighting federal encroachment” by trying to “keep the Federal Government from spending money they do not have on programs our citizens don’t want within our state.”
What are some of these awful programs Turner assumes Georgians don’t want?
Last year, 71 Georgia counties and municipalities received federal community development grants to cover projects like fixing sewer lines and building new facilities for the local Boys and Girls Club.
Three cities in Georgia received grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help promote local farmers’ markets.
And The National Park Service awarded a grant to The University of West Georgia to catalogue the archives of the poet Carl Sandburg.
Turner probably didn’t have Carl Sandburg in mind when he said he wants the General Assembly to, “at least have a debate on whether these programs are appropriate.”
He was more likely referring to federal programs that benefit low-income Georgians with support for food security, housing assistance, education, and basic health care.
“The dictate of this bill would require huge amounts of time, energy, and expertise at the General Assembly level, rather than in our state agencies. Our agencies are manned by professionals in their fields,” Pat Willis, executive director of Voices for Georgia’s Children, told APN.
“We put our trust in them to decide who they partner with, how they allocate resources, and so forth. It doesn’t make sense to me to set aside the professionalism of these state agencies and delegate their jobs to state legislators who certainly care, but don’t have the expertise and staffing necessary to provide timely, effective decisions for our state goals and our economy,” Willis said.
The Financial Accountability Act probably does not stand much of a chance of becoming law. Turner proposed the same legislation last year to no avail.
So far this year, Turner has sponsored 27 bills, including a measure to eliminate the state income tax. One of the bills was to increase government transparency; however, he withdrew the latter just two weeks after introducing it.