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Demise of 4-H is just talk, Bulloch says

Talk that state budget woes will result in closed UGA Extension Service offices and the end of 4-H in Georgia is just that, according to Sen. John Bulloch. Bulloch says the subject was brought up to scare Georgia voters.
“Dr. (Michael) Adams intentionally made those cuts, looking for public outcry,” said Bulloch, who was reached by telephone at his Atlanta office Tuesday, of the UGA president. Bulloch said legislators working to frame a balanced budget asked the Board of Regents, which oversees Georgia’s 35 colleges and universities, to cut $300 million from its spending plan.  The Ochlocknee republican said regardless, the Board of Regents is not the authority that controls the budget that funds both of the agriculture related entities. “Extension, which is in charge of 4-H . .  . are in the ‘B’ budget. That’s a budget we totally control. We budget it, they (the Board of Regents) run it,” contended Bulloch.
Representative Gene Maddox of Cairo said the 4-H is too important to consider cutting. “The proposed cut is $58 to $60 million, which comes to 12.8 percent of the University System’s annual budget. In my estimation, the Georgia Extension is being asked to take the brunt of these cuts which amounts to 20 percent of their total cuts. The fallout from such cuts to just one arm of the University System is devastating. One of those programs happens to be the end of the 4-H program, which I believe is one of the finer programs in our educational system. I was personally a 4-H member and cannot express adequately the impact it had on my future. Georgia 4-H students have a high school graduation rate of 92 percent compared to 78 percent for all other students. The loss of 4-H would have detrimental effects on Georgia and its students for years to come,” Maddox stated.
Bulloch said the Regents should look at cutting administrative salaries at the colleges and universities around the state. “The assistant to (Adams) makes more money than the governor makes,” Bulloch said incredulously.  
Governor Sonny Perdue released this week, February’s revenue collections were down 9.9 percent from the same month in 2009.  “We were kindly expecting this, maybe not quite as bad as what it turned out to be,” Bulloch said.
Still he said he is certain Extension and 4-H are safe from the carving ax. “We’re in a real budget situation, but that’s not going to be where major cuts are going to take place. I think the 4-H program is a great program and I’m not foreseeing it cut,” he said.
Rep. Maddox said the programs operated by Extension, including 4-H, are too important to slash. “These (proposed) cuts would also mean closing half the county extension offices and our experiment station at Attapulgus. Also, the Stripling Water Research Center in Camilla is proposed to be closed. With our state water issues this would be detrimental and make an impact on our agriculture in southwest Georgia which is our largest industry. In my opinion the University System of Georgia’s recommendation to target Cooperative Extension Service and agriculture is unacceptable and reflects a lack of leadership at the highest level,” Rep. Maddox said.
According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Legislature voted to work a three-day week, which will extend their 40-day session to mid- to late April and give the lawmakers time to hash out the budget, hopefully without requiring a special session in the summer.

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