As the Georgia General Assembly prepares to fill a $1.5 billion hole in the state budget, local legislators have no doubt more cuts are coming. The question is, where?
The Hall County delegation met Thursday with area government officials, school leaders and agency heads during its annual daylong pre-legislative conference at Lanier Technical College.
Each group raced against a ticking clock, presenting memos, illustrations and a few gifts in 15-minute segments.
Several took more than their allotted time, causing legislators to give up several scheduled break times.
"Put your pencils on the table and turn over your papers," Rep. Doug Collins said with a laugh during several sessions when the bell rang. "It's like taking the SAT."
Requests varied, but no group could avoid the toughest question - money.
Here are the wish lists the groups presented to the delegation:
Northeast Georgia Health Systems
Keep an eye on huge Medicaid increases
Change hospital bed tax so it will apply equally across hospitals
Consider the cigarette tax
Hall County Schools and Gainesville City Schools
Be considerate of teacher furloughs
Continue support of charter systems that allow flexibility in classrooms
Help schools recoup formula funding for virtual and dual enrollment hours
Don't divert money from public schools by considering voucher programs
Brenau University, Gainesville State College, Lanier Technical College
Create a viable solution for HOPE scholarship money
Prepare for huge demand in health care and nursing fields by creating more programs
Don't cut technical college funding as system switches from quarters to semesters
Hall County Commission
Give electric and natural gas franchise fees to the county, not the city
Distribute prepaid wireless E-911 fees back to local governments
Make boat sales taxes payable to the jurisdiction where registered
Help pay for road improvement needed at the entrance of Don Carter State Park
Hall County Joint Municipal Association
Don't take franchise fees away from the cities
Allow cities to work with Department of Revenue on collecting accurate sales taxes
Be careful with property tax caps
Give cities input during census redistricting in the summer
Start thinking about a long-term plan for passenger rail between Atlanta and Gainesville
Greater Hall County Chamber of Commerce
Support local and state efforts in tri-state water wars
Help Hall County and Gainesville expedite Cedar Creek and Glades reservoir plans
Consider new trauma care legislation and funding
Plan for a new tax structure in Georgia