Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Library money based on politics

When Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue recommended which communities would get money for new libraries, there was little political distinction in his choices.
He reviewed a list recommended by state library officials. Money went to communities represented by Republicans at the statehouse, and money went to cities represented by Democrats.
General Assembly politics changed all that.
In the budget that will be passed by the House Wednesday, $1.895 million to renovate the Rockmart Library, represented by Rep. Rick Crawford (D-Cedartown), got the ax. So did $2 million for design and construction at the central library in heavily Democratic DeKalb County. Another $2 million to design and construct a library in Athens, represented by Reps. Keith Heard (D-Athens) and Doug McKillip (D-Athens), was culled from the budget. $2 million for a library in Democrat Forest Park was gone.
Money was cut for a library in Republican Walton County as well, but that was because legislators said it wasn’t ready for construction yet.
What was added? Two libraries in Haralson County, represented by two Republican members of the House Appropriations Committee, Howard Maxwell (R-Dallas) and Mark Butler (R-Carrollton). About $1.8 million was added for a library in Greensboro, represented by House Appropriations vice chairman Mickey Channell (R-Greensboro). Another $2 million was added for a library in Lee County, a county represented by one Democrat and one Republican, both on the House Appropriations Committee.
Powerful House members didn’t just get libraries in the budget.
Georgia State University got $17.6 million in the budget for two projects, including money for intramural fields. Downtown GSU is represented in the House by a Democrat. But it also is Republican House Speaker Glenn Richardson’s alma mater and his son works there.
House Appropriations Chairman Ben Harbin (R-Evans), wasn’t left out. Harbin is from a suburb of Augusta, and he is a big booster of Augusta’s Medical College of Georgia. The House budget adds $27 million for a new school of dentistry at MCG.
How did Perdue fare? Two minor projects that he recommended in his home Houston County got cut.

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