Mike Klein Online

Supporters: Trauma Care Funding Amendment Slain by Angry Voters

Leading advocates for statewide dedicated trauma care funding said Wednesday afternoon that they will plead their case with Georgia Governor-elect Nathan Deal and the new General Assembly, but they are not optimistic about chances to find $80 million in the current state budget or anytime soon.

Georgia Trauma Care Network Commission chairman Dr. Dennis Ashley said voters are angry and they distrust politicians to take their money and do the right thing.  “I’ve never seen anything like this,” Ashley said.  “We felt like if we got out there and showed the facts we could overcome it.”

Constitutional Amendment #2 asked voters to approve a $10 annual vehicle registration tax that would be dedicated to improve trauma care throughout the state but mostly in rural Georgia.  The ballot question lost 52.6% to 47.4% and it failed in 145 of the state’s 159 counties.

“I don’t think this was about $10 or trauma care.  It was about government,” said Kevin Bloye, vice president of the Georgia Hospital Association.  “What we heard was (voters) didn’t feel like the money would be used for trauma.   They felt like it would be money flushed down another hole.  As much as we tried to tell them the dollars were locked into trauma care, they weren’t buying it.”

Tuesday was the first time Georgia voters were asked to consider dedicated trauma care funding.  “Even with unemployment the way it is and anti-government sentiment, we still got 1.2 million people that thought trauma care was enough of a problem that they were willing to pay $10 per year,” said Ashley.

“That’s no small number.  The ones who voted no, they were supportive of trauma care.  They thought it was a good idea to save 700 lives a year.  They just wanted no more taxes and they want the money to come from the general fund.”

Despite its defeat, the amendment overcame a perception north Georgia voters would not approve funds that would primarily assist south Georgians.  Three large population counties in metropolitan Atlanta – Cobb, DeKalb and Fulton – approved the measure by slim margins, as did Chatham County (Savannah) on the southeast coast.  But much needed rural support never materialized.

“The irony was the people who needed this amendment to pass the most were the ones who rejected it,” Bloye said.  “Without doubt the major gaps in trauma care are in south Georgia, southwest Georgia and northeast Georgia. Those are the areas that rejected the amendment.”

Georgia’s General Assembly created the constitutional amendment path when it could not or would not fund trauma care from the state’s general budget.  Ashley said he discussed trauma care funding with Governor-elect Deal “two weeks ago.  He talked like he was supportive of (dedicated trauma care funding) but we didn’t get into any details. We’ll just have to see how that plays out.”

Bloye pointed to “an unprecedented time in state government.  Collections remain down.  There are huge funding holes.  Frankly, it’s going to be very difficult the next few years to get anything done with trauma care. Does that mean we will stop working on it?  Absolutely not.  We will work as hard as ever but this is going to be a huge uphill climb.”

Mike Klein is Editor at the Georgia Public Policy Foundation.

November 3, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Georgia Republicans Finish the Drill; Trauma Care Amendment Loses

This article was published by StatehouseNewsOnline.Com and Watchdog.Org.

Georgia voters provided Republicans arguably their greatest statewide victory ever Tuesday as the GOP administered a whipping to Democrats like nothing they had seen, literally, since Reconstruction after the Civil War.  This was the political equivalent of what football coaches preach:  Finish the Drill!

Republicans won every state constitutional office starting with Governor.  Retired nine-term congressman Nathan Deal ended Democratic former Governor Roy Barnes’ comeback bid by 53% to 43%.  Georgia requires a majority margin to win.  Georgia sent Republican U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson back to Washington by an even wider margin, 58% to 39%.

That was just the beginning of a great night for Republicans, a fright night for Democrats.

Republicans retained seven Congressional seats and took one from Democrats.  Former GOP state legislator Austin Scott defeated four-term Democrat Jim Marshall 53% to 47% in central Georgia’s 8th Congressional district.  Republicans will hold both Senate seats and eight of the state’s 13 House seats in the next Congress.

Republicans seized three state executive offices from Democrats:  attorney general, agriculture commissioner and labor commissioner.  The GOP retained lieutenant governor, secretary of state, insurance commissioner, state school superintendent and public service commissioner.

As Wednesday dawned over Georgia, Democrats could only wonder, what now?

Historians will consider whether Tuesday was more significant than eight years ago when Sonny Perdue became Georgia’s first Republican governor in 130 years.  Democrats held many state offices after 2002 and 2006 elections.  Now the GOP will hold every state government office for the next four years.  The party retained state Senate and House majorities.

The evening began with many predictions Deal and Barnes would face a gubernatorial run-off on Tuesday November 30.  Analysts predicted African-American support would break to Barnes and Libertarian candidate John Monds would take votes from Deal.  Barnes did carry the African-American vote but Monds could not get over 4% and Barnes conceded just before midnight.

Deal told supporters, “Georgia has placed its faith in the Republican Party and we are not going to let them down.” Barnes quoted the Apostle Paul, “I have fought the good fight.   I have run the good race.  I have finished the course.  I have kept the faith and so have you.”

An amendment to fund trauma care with a special $10 tax that would be added to annual vehicle registration was defeated 53% to 47%.   This high-profile measure was supported by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and the state’s major medical organizations.  A major final weekend media blitz was not enough to save it from voters who rejected the new tax.

Mike Klein is Editor at the Georgia Public Policy Foundation.

November 3, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment