Senate dumps local projects

ATLANTA - Local projects and millions of dollars in spending across the state would be cut from midyear budget revisions under a plan passed Wednesday by the Senate Appropriations Committee.


The casualties in the Senate version of the budget include:

- $5 million in design funding for the Medical College of Georgia's proposed new School of Dentistry building, the first step for a project that is expected to cost more than $100 million

- $1.5 million for six community health centers, one to be located in Augusta

- $300,000 for the Golf Hall of Fame Authority

The panel's vote, along with comments by one of the Senate's top Republicans that some of the projects might not get funded in the budget for the coming year, marks the latest step in a budget battle between the House and the Senate.

Senate leaders rebuffed suggestions from the House that politics are behind the removal of the projects from the amendment to the spending plan for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30.

"Obesity is the No. 1 problem with health care in America; obesity is probably the No. 1 problem with government, also," Senate President Pro Tem Eric Johnson, R-Savannah, said at a news conference.

"And the first thing you do with a diet is push back from the table, take a breath and decide whether you can put the food in the refrigerator and eat it as leftovers later or give some of it back to the people that provided it."

The Senate version would put $20 million in the state's reserves and use $181.2 million to pay down debt. It would provide $81 million to save the joint state-federal PeachCare health insurance program for low- and middle-income children and $11 million for disaster relief.