Cuts threaten Augusta-based medical group
Augusta authority may lose funding
By Walter C. Jones | Morris News Service
Wednesday, January 27, 2010

ATLANTA --- The Augusta-based Medical Center Authority could be getting a severe cut to its budget if lawmakers don't find alternatives to Gov. Sonny Perdue's recommendations.

On Tuesday, Rep. Barbara Sims, R-Augusta, was not hopeful.

"I'm still working on it," she said. "The budget is so dismal that I don't know that there'll be anything but cuts. ... We're just going to have to realize things."

Sims, newly appointed to the House Appropriations Committee led by Rep. Ben Harbin, R-Evans, said her position gives her the opportunity to push for changes in the governor's spending blueprint. But Harbin has said he opposes tax increases to balance the budget, meaning something else would have to be cut to leave money for the authority.

Though based in Augusta, the authority's mission is to help budding biotech companies statewide translate recent innovations into profitable companies, creating high-paying jobs at the same time. It operates business incubators where entrepreneurs get hands-on advice in making the transition from scientist to business manager.

Perdue cut $71,000 from the authority's budget in the current fiscal year and all $300,000 in the next year, which begins July 1.

It's packaged with other cuts to economic-development programs, including the complete elimination of funds for the Civil War Commission, the Civil War Trails, the Veterans' Wall of Honor, a $140,000 cut to the Georgia Humanities Council, $60,000 to the Georgia Historical Society and $30,000 from the society's historical-marker revitalization program.

One of the biggest expenditures for job-creation activities is $10 million the state would contribute toward construction of the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta to stimulate tourism employment there. That money would be funded from the sale of bonds to be financed over 20 years, with just the annual interest to come from next year's budget.

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