Finance vets suggest savings in Georgia

Proposals could save $3 billion

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ATLANTA --- A task force of seven veterans of corporate finance released 50 recommendations Tuesday they say could save taxpayers an estimated $3 billion over five years, but Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle acknowledged many of them will hit political roadblocks.

"There are many of the recommendations that are very viable and some that are going to be very politically unviable," he said. "But this is a nonpolitical view that the business community took as they looked at and made significant recommendations."

Some recommendations are already pending in the form of legislation under consideration in the current session of the General Assembly, but most of them would take years to implement, Cagle said. They range from consolidation of some government agencies to selling off the state's office buildings and leasing space from the buyers.

Proposals that will likely run into political opposition include elimination of teacher seniority pay raises while asking educators to contribute more toward their retirement plan, expanding the sales tax to services and making sure the University System of Georgia raises tuition to match nearby states.

Cagle made clear to reporters gathered in his office for the report's release that he didn't want to be bound by all of the proposals.

"I'm not endorsing this plan. This is a recommendation that we will take up with every senator and representative."

One of the task force participants, Kelly McCutcheon, president of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, said most large businesses have already embraced many of the concepts, such as sharing back-office clerical services between divisions such as payroll and human resources.

"I think there will be some very constructive ideas. It won't solve all the problems," he said.

Other members of the task force include Max Blocker of PricewaterhouseCoopers; Ronnie Labrato, chief financial officer at Georgia Power; Monye Connolly, president of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia; Greg Duncan, president of North American Operations for UCB Inc.; Suzanne Sitherwood, president of Atlanta Gas Light; and Edward Heys, Atlanta deputy managing partner of Deloitte & Touche.


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