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Bill would combine state departments
Collins and others will work on the bill this summer
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It's finally time for politicians to create a smaller state government, says a Hall County lawmaker.

During the last week of the 2011 legislative session, Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, introduced a bill that would combine several administrative departments.

House Bill 642 is similar to a bill he brought forward in the past that got through the House but stalled in the Senate.

"It's a principle that I've believed in since I came to the legislature," Collins said. "Whether we have money or not, government should be run efficiently and in the best way possible."

The bill would create the Georgia Services Administration as a successor agency to the Department of Administrative Services, the State Personnel Administration and the State Properties Commission.

The 118-page document outlines the transfer of responsibilities, including administrative positions in the Georgia Aviation Authority, State Accounting Office, Office of Treasury and Fiscal Services, Georgia Building Authority, Office of State Administrative Hearings and Georgia Technology Authority.

"We need to make sure the government is doing what the government is supposed to be doing," Collins said. "It has been a mission of mine to do true consolidation, and this literally reduces the size of government and streamlines some services."

When the legislation came up in the past, former Gov. Sonny Perdue decided not to get involved. This year, Gov. Nathan Deal is open to the idea.

"Nathan has a fresher perspective and is willing to look and listen, and this bill just makes sense," said Rep. Terry England, R-Auburn. "The governor is willing to make things happen and understands that it's something the General Assembly would like to see done."

England, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, signed onto the bill along with Rep. Mark Hamilton, R-Cumming; Rep. John Meadows, R-Calhoun; Rep. Earl Ehrhart, R-Powder Springs; and Rep. Paulette Braddock, R-Hiram.

"We've never really had the support needed from the administration, and we feel like we've got it now," England said.

The bill was assigned to the House Governmental Affairs Committee and was read in the House for a second time last Thursday, the last day of the session.

Collins and others will work on the bill this summer before bringing it up for a vote in 2012.

"This will give time to perfect the bill. Sometimes you think you're doing the right thing, but the consequences could cause some harm," England said.

"It makes sense to slow down, even though you'd like to see it done quickly, and be cautious. You want to make sure it doesn't harm the state or citizens in terms of delivering services."

England, who spent most of the 2011 session dealing with the 2012 fiscal year budget, is eager to dig into the financial details of Collins' bill.

"When you can do something that saves money, especially in tight budget years like we've had the last three and probably at least one more, it makes sense to find as many savings as you can," he said.

"If we have agencies duplicating services of any sort and we can combine them, this could cut out layers of bureaucracy and management that doesn't need to be there."