Alan Brown’s frustration with the way the state has handled a fund that’s supposed to support driver education for the state’s young people — a fund established under a law carrying the name of his dead son, who hydroplaned on a wet road eight years ago and hit a tree — certainly is understandable.
However, the Cartersville man — who noted recently at North Oconee High School that he’s pushing for a state constitutional amendment to ensure that money collected under terms of Joshua’s Law, passed by the state Legislature in 2005, is properly allocated — isn’t the only Georgian who should be concerned about the state government’s cavalier attitude toward directing money where it’s supposed to go.
While the misdirection of driver education money for young people ought to be of particular concern, there are plenty of other areas in which money intended for some specific purpose is being steered into the state’s general fund, the pot of money from which state operations are funded.
• The Peace Officer and Prosecutors Training Fund gets its allocation from add-on penalties imposed in connection with a host of court-related fees. Of the $25 million collected in the 2011 fiscal year, $16 million went to the state’s general fund, and the remaining $9 million went to train state law-enforcement officers.
• The Solid Waste Trust Fund gets its proceeds from a $1-per-tire charge on new tires sold in Georgia. It is supposed to be used to clean up illegal scrap tire dumps and abandoned landfills. Of the $6 million collected in FY 2010, exactly no dollars were appropriated for the fund’s intended purposes.
• The Emergency 911 Assistance Fund, which comes from fees paid on prepaid cellphones, has generated more than $36 million since 2007. The money is supposed to fund grants for enhanced emergency response services. According to the Association County Commissioners of Georgia, none of the money has ever been used for its intended purpose, but has been sent “to the state’s general fund for unrelated budget items.”
While addressing the problem with Joshua’s Law would be a good and noble start for lawmakers in the upcoming General Assembly session, it would be only a start.
— Online: www.onlineathens.com