- Created on 11 January 2013
If Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed is right, it won't be long before red state Georgia turns blue and turns for good.
In a meeting with the Atlanta Press Club Thursday, Reed, a Democrat, predicted that US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will win the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016 and that she will carry the state of Georgia.
"Georgia is on an irreversible path to a Democratic majority," Reed said.
That would make Hillary the first Democrat to carry Georgia, which went overwhelmingly for Republican Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election, since her husband, Bill Clinton, did so when he was elected president in 1992.
"The Clintons have a special affection for Georgia," Reed told the Atlanta Press Club.
The Atlanta Business Chronicle's Dave Williams first reported Reed's comments to the group. Reed will meet with the Atlanta Association of Black Journalists on Saturday in a special meeting with WSB's program director, Condace Pressley.
Currently the Georgia House of Representatives has 116 Republicans and only 63 Democrats, with one Independent. The state senate is similarly in firm Republican control, with 34 Republicans and 20 Democrats.
Reed said his prediction for a Clinton victory in Georgia was based on changing demographics in the state that favor Democrats regaining power here after more than a decade of Republican control.
Georgia's Hispanic population is growing much faster than that of any other group, and Hispanic voters in recent years have tended to support Democratic candidates.
As for his own political future, Reed repeated his intention to seek a second term as mayor this fall, despite some "friendly calls" from the Obama administration.
"I got my dream job," he said. "Y'all are stuck with me for another five years."
- Created on 11 January 2013
(CNN) -- Planned Parenthood in Texas heads to federal court Friday, looking for a temporary injunction that would allow it to take part in the state's revamped Women's Health Program.
Late last month, a Texas judge denied the group's request for a temporary restraining order that would have extended the organization's ability to participate.
A state law that went into effect with the new year requires the state to fully fund women's health clinics with the exception of those that are affiliated with abortion providers. With that new law, Texas is no longer eligible for federal funding and, therefore, Planned Parenthood and other such establishments in the state will no longer be able to receive federal funding.
Previously, such establishments in Texas obtained 90% of their money through the Social Security Administration and other federal funding.
Planned Parenthood, which provides abortions at some of its clinics, and fellow plaintiff Marcela Balquinta of McAllen, Texas, filed the request for a temporary restraining order seeking exclusion from the new law, arguing the organization provides preventative women's health care not associated with abortions to nearly 50,000 Texas enrollees annually.
"I have denied the request for a temporary restraining order at this time," Judge Gary Harger said in late December. "I did not find that there would be an irreparable harm in waiting nine days for the injunction hearing."
Texas Gov. Rick Perry issued a statement at the time welcoming the move.
The "ruling finally clears the way for thousands of low-income Texas women to access much-needed care, while at the same time respecting the values and laws of our state," he said. "I applaud all those who stand ready to help these women live healthy lives without sending taxpayer money to abortion providers and their affiliates."
Planned Parenthood vowed to fight the ruling.
"It is shocking that once again Texas officials are letting politics jeopardize health care access for women," Ken S. Lambrecht, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas said at the time. "This case isn't about Planned Parenthood -- it's about women like Marcy Balquinta who rely on us for basic, preventive health care."
- Created on 10 January 2013
Mayor Kasim Reed has announced that the City of Atlanta has $126.7 million in its general fund reserves, an increase of more than $119 million since January 2010 when he was inaugurated. The unrestricted fund balance is $107.1 million. The audited data was released as part of the city's Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) for the fiscal year which ended June 30, 2012.
"Under the stewardship of my administration, the City of Atlanta's cash reserves have grown to more than $126 million from just over $7 million since January 2010," said Reed. "Despite challenging economic conditions, we have cut unnecessary expenses and invested in public safety and our city's young people. We have sensibly managed our finances, hired more than 700 police officers and expanded services for our residents. And we have done all of this without raising property taxes and having a balanced budget every year. Atlanta's fiscal house is in order and we will continue to make substantive strides which make the city stronger."
"We are committed to adhering to the reserve targets of the city as well as conservative budgeting and spending practices," said Jim Beard, chief financial officer for the City of Atlanta. "With our unrestricted reserves at 20 percent of our annual budget, the finance team is looking toward tackling other critical needs of the city, such as long-term investments in infrastructure. KPMG is a renowned firm and we are pleased to have their clean audit opinion that our work at the city reflects the highest standard and conforms to accepted accounting principles."
State law requires that all general-purpose local governments publish, within six months of the close of each fiscal year, a complete set of audited financial statements, presented in conformity with generally accepted accounting principles in the United States.
The city's FY 2012 financial statements were audited by KPMG. The goal of the independent audit is to provide reasonable assurance that the city's financial statements for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2012, are free of material misstatement.
- Created on 11 January 2013
- Created on 10 January 2013
The Georgia General Assembly convenes Jan. 14 for its annual session. The state constitution allows lawmakers 40 days of legislative business, but doesn't set a date by which the session must end. The Assembly usually finishes its business in early to mid-spring.
Here's a look at the issues and dynamics worth watching:
Budget: Lawmakers are responsible for crafting a state budget for fiscal 2013-14, which begins July 1. Republican Gov. Nathan Deal hasn't issued the official revenue estimates used to write the budget, but most observers expect the projected shortfall -- which means the difference between the predicted revenue and the amount of money necessary to continue existing services, personnel and policies for another year -- to be somewhere in the neighborhood of $700 million.
Hospital Tax: The anticipated budget shortfall does not include the $600 million to $700 million generated by an existing Medicaid financing scheme that runs out this year. Hospitals have submitted a proposal to extend the current scheme and add some new wrinkles. The question is how to get it through a Legislature where many members are reluctant to support anything that smells like a tax.
Ethics: Senate leaders have floated the idea of capping lobbyist spending on lawmakers at $100. House Speaker David Ralston has floated an outright ban. There is currently no limit on what lobbyists spend, as long as they disclose it in public reports.
Criminal Justice: After passing an overhaul of the adult criminal justice system last year, lawmakers are expected to turn their attention to the juvenile justice system. A special council last month released a report with recommendations for juvenile justice reforms, including saving the state's out-of-home facilities for the most serious offenders and strengthening community programs to reduce recidivism.
Guns In Schools: In the wake of the December massacre at a Connecticut elementary school, gun-related proposals will span the ideological spectrum. There are already calls for more guns in schools, either by expanding the number of armed guards or allowing teachers and principals to carry weapons. Some Atlanta Democrats, meanwhile, want to push discussion on gun-control measures like limiting high-capacity magazines and requiring background checks and public records of private gun sales.
Vouchers: A Georgia program that lets businesses and individuals get tax credits for money that finances private school scholarships could draw proposed changes from both ends of the spectrums. There are always lawmakers who want to expand the existing scheme into a statewide voucher program.
Other lawmakers, particularly among leading Democrats, want to require more transparency in the current structure: what schools are getting how much money, and how are those students doing?
Teacher Evaluations: Lawmakers and the Department of Education must work out details of Georgia's new teacher evaluation system that ties educators' job performance assessments to student performance. The key question is how to measure certain teachers -- those in art, band or physical education or in early grades -- whose students do not take clearly measurable standardized tests.
New Stadium: Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank wants a new domed stadium, but the public investment of tourism tax revenues will require legislative approval.