Recent editorials from Georgia newspapers:
The Brunswick News on programs to help with Hurricane Irma damage:
It has almost been two years since Hurricane Irma battered the Golden Isles, bringing with it a devastating storm surge and damaging high winds. You can still see the impact Irma had on some of the houses in the area.
That damage is what Martha Dismer, emergency disaster service case worker for Salvation Army, wants to help clean up before this year's hurricane season kicks into gear. The Salvation Army's Disaster Long Term Recovery program is seeking more clients with unmet needs related to Hurricane Irma
At a meeting Monday of the Voluntary Organization Active in Disaster of Coastal Georgia, Dismer said she is hoping to aid more local residents whose homes are still feeling the effects of Irma. The program has more money at its disposal, and its case managers help clients assess their damages, assist them in hiring contractors to repair homes and provide funding to help cover the costs.
The program has been successful for those who have used it. Three major construction projects costing more than $20,000 have been completed. The program has also helped 10 homes get new roofs, seven homes have received intensive exterior repairs and several trailers have been approved for purchase to replace ones damaged by Irma.
We haven't had any tropical storms yet in 2019, but the potential for development of a storm in the Gulf of Mexico this week is a reminder of the danger posed by these storms. The Isles was lucky not to be hit harder by tropical storms in 2018.
If you are struggling to fix your house two years after Irma or know someone who needs help, we encourage you to contact the Salvation Army and let them know about your situation. Those seeking assistance or hoping to refer a case can contact Dismer at Martha.Dismer@uss.salvationarmy.org.
There may be help for you to get your home fixed before the next disaster comes. If we do get hit by a storm this year, it could make the situation even more grave for homes still damaged by Irma. Let's nip the problem in the bud now before it has a chance to get worse.
Savannah Morning News on one Georgia senator's stance on the state budget:
Retailers know one way to spur consumers to action during the holiday season is to note Christmas Day's rapid approach.
In that spirit, Georgia Sen. David Perdue is reminding his fellow lawmakers that there only 20 legislative days left until the next government shutdown.
Perdue flew back to Washington, D.C., on Monday, stopping for a visit with this publication's editorial board en route to Savannah-Hilton Head International Airport. The looming deadline was foremost on his mind, and his concerns went beyond avoiding another petty, partisan stare down such as the one that partially closed the government for 35 days earlier this year.
Perdue, a first-term Republican, will insist legislators consider passing new budget measures rather than continuing resolutions. The latter is a stopgap measure, maintaining appropriations at the same levels as the previous fiscal year, and the fallout would significantly impact the Savannah region.
Continuing resolutions would delay funding committed to the Savannah harbor deepening and for area military programs for a year, Perdue said. President Donald Trump's administration has proposed substantial funding increases for those projects, including $130 million to finish dredging the shipping channel.
"We need to move forward," Perdue said. "Nobody should go home until a budget deal is done."
The Senate has yet to advance any of the 12 spending bills that make up the federal budget. The House has passed 10 of them, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has objected to moving ahead without agreement between the Senate, House and the Trump administration on spending caps.
Perdue favors shortening the Senate's annual August recess to promote a sense of urgency. He succeeded in pushing such a maneuver a year ago, and five spending bills passed before the fiscal year's end on Sept. 30, 2018, the most enacted on time in 22 years.
He's confident the Senate "will get there" on two of the trickiest funding bills, those involving defense and health and human services, but is flustered by the fact that the Senate "hasn't passed the first appropriation bills, yet."
'FREAKED OUT' BY DEBT
Perdue is an unapologetic budget wonk.
A former corporate executive and business leader, he ran on a reformer's platform, and in his four-plus years in the Senate, he's worked toward a budget process overhaul. He was part of a committee that included senators and representatives from both parties that identified several potential reforms prior to the conclusion of its work last November.
The committee's recommendations were ultimately discarded due to partisan disagreement between the Senate's party leaders. Not long after came the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.
Now, another funding debacle looms.
The national debt continues to climb in the meantime, now exceeding $22 trillion. Perdue's website features a real-time debt counter, and he admits he's "freaked out by it."
Pressed to justify his support for measures that have contributed to the climbing debt, such as tax reform and tariffs, Perdue challenges such assertions.
Economic growth has "more than paid for the tax cut," he said, pointing to a $300 million lowering of the debt curve. And taking a hard-line on tariffs, particularly with China, is essential to growing U.S. exports, he said.
Perdue has pinpointed five areas that threaten to "choke us." He sees promise in U.S. economic growth, the elimination of redundancies in federal agencies, and health care cost control measures. But he's alarmed by the crisis facing the country in terms of Medicare and Social Security funding and, not surprisingly, the dysfunctional budget process.
He's cautiously optimistic for a fiscal governance renaissance, but with a major caveat.
"It takes a second-term president," he said. "Historically speaking, Bill Clinton did it. Ronald Reagan did it. And both in their second terms."
Perdue is looking for a second term himself.
He's up for re-election in 2020 and will be on the same ballot as President Trump. His only challenger currently is Democrat Teresa Tomlinson, the former Columbus mayor.
Perdue will once again emphasize his budget reform chops. He'll continue to speak out against the use of continuing resolutions to fund the government.
And, of course, any appropriations successes in the coming months will be not only a boon to the country but to his campaign.
The Valdosta Daily Times on the state's aging population:
The "silver tsunami" is coming.
"The silver tsunami is on us," said Kathy Floyd, who is the executive director of the Georgia Council on Aging. "It's not down the road. It's not coming soon. It's on us now."
No question about it, according to Floyd and others.
The question: Is South Georgia and the nation ready? ...
By the year 2030, when these baby boomers will all be older than 65, one in every five Americans will be retirement age, according to the U.S. Census. It will mark the first time in U.S. history that older people will outnumber children.
Though slightly more than a decade away, the shift has already started with many baby boomers already 65 and older. By 2030, the last of the baby boomers, the ones born in 1964, will be older than 65.
An aged and aging population is expected to place a burden on social and medical services as well as government programs such as Social Security and Medicare.
State Rep. John LaHood is not only a Republican legislator from Valdosta. He is part of family-operated assisted living and memory-care facilities.
Based on his knowledge and experience in the field, he convinced lawmakers the issue — and the potential impact on the state — warrants a closer look. House lawmakers backed his request to form a study committee, which LaHood said he hopes will suggest legislative fixes as soon as next session.
In Georgia alone, the population of residents who are 65 years and older is expected to leap from 1.3 million three years ago to 2.9 million in 2040, according to U.S. Census figures cited in the measure forming the study committee. The fastest growth will be among those 85 and older.
Already, some seniors can afford the help they need. Others cannot.
"I'm not a proponent of increasing or growing taxpayer-funded social programs, but if we have this growing demographic that is going to need care and if the current process is funneling people to a more costly care option, then we may need to look at changing some policy so that the taxpayer-funded programs are more cost-effective, which could mean opening up different types of care settings to a government-funded program," LaHood said.
We agree with LaHood.
Legislators need to look at this issue now. South Georgia, the entire state and the country face the increase of an aging population. Real-world solutions should be weighed and implemented as soon as possible.
Again, 2030 is the date when the last baby boomers are older than 65, but the older-than-65 population started increasing yesterday and will only grow larger today and tomorrow and with each passing year.
Now is the time. The "silver tsunami" grows.