Georgia County Government - August 2009 - (Page 9)

CountyMatters Good Public Policy and Good Politics Can Find Common Ground O By Jerry Griffin Executive Director Discussions will continue about what happened to our economy. However, questionable public policy decisions in Washington, D.C., appear the largest single cause. ur models for federal and state government are among the best in the world, but like everything in life, they are in a constant state of f lux. Determining when to make changes and understanding the long-term impacts of decisions are critical elements that must be considered by today’s leaders to help our nation and state emerge from the economic downturn with a solid foundation for the future. Businesses that spot developing problems early are able to adjust and emerge stronger and better positioned for future growth. IBM is an example of a giant corporation that successfully changed its business model when it noticed that the personal computer was replacing the mainframe. By comparison, General Motors failed to recognize that the company had too many brands and a poor product mix, inadequate to meet the public demand until it was too late. In the case of business, management traditionally gets blamed and stockholders pay for bad decisions. Recent events, however, have surely changed our view of this scenario as the federal government has spent billions to assist companies that performed poorly but were determined too large to fail without causing even greater harm. While discussions will continue about what happened to our economy, we recognize that many issues in the United States and around the world came together in a kind of “perfect storm.” Questionable public policy decisions made in Washington, D.C., however, appear to be the largest single cause. From deregulation of the banking and securities industries to the operation of some federal agencies dealing with housing loans, there is certainly enough blame to go around. What we find when we examine all of these major public policy decisions is that they are heavily influenced by the politics of the day. Unfortunately, today’s public policy is viewed through the prism of the next election – or even next week’s polling – rather than its prospective long-term impact. Political leaders are forced to champion and implement changes based on what the polls show the public wants, without much opportunity to fully evaluate the long-term impact – including the ultimate cost. This “collision” of well-intended public policy and good politics is a natural occurrence and one that will not go away. Citizens must understand, however, that they cannot continue to demand more services without paying for them. There is one simple solution to deal with this dilemma, and that is for each level of government to fulfill its responsibilities without undue interference from other levels of government. The State of Georgia and its counties both have clear responsibilities. The State Constitution mandates about 69 responsibilities for county government. These are not optional services; they’re required. To finance these services, the state has granted a few sources of revenue. The primary one that is controlled locally is the property tax. The Constitution sets broad parameters on the property tax and state law establishes the details. Unfortunately, the property tax has become the political issue of the decade. As legislators hear complaints about the property tax, they often are quick to propose COUNTY MATTERS continued on page 10 AUGUST 2009 9

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia County Government - August 2009

Georgia County Government - August 2009
President’s Message
County Matters
Morgan and Newton Counties Bank High Quality of Life on Sustainable Growth
Georgia’s Unique Approach to Public Safety Training
Extension News: The Face of Poverty
Research Corner: ACCG Needs Your Participation in Burruss Budget Survey
Staff News
County Parade
ACCG Teams with Technology Provider, Dell
Index of Advertisers

Georgia County Government - August 2009