The plan to cut funding from the Universtiy of Georgia’s budget that would impact Cooperative Extension and 4H is causing a lot of controversy at the Gold Dome in Atlanta.
On Wednesday, Chattooga County Extension Agent Rebecca Thomas was on the AM 1180 Newsmakers Interview program outlining the cuts that the Board of Regents has brought to the appropriations committee at the capital. The plan calls for eliminating the 4H program statewide along with cutting funding for Extension offices across the state.
AM 1180 spoke with State Representative Barbara Massey Reece on Wednesday evening about the situation. Representative Reece said that 4H is too important to the State of Georgia to eliminate saying, "anything that cuts that deep into 4H is not going to be viable." Reece pointed out that 4H builds leadership skills that go far beyond the field of agriculture and that many urban counties have strong 4H programs.
Reece also said that cuts to the Extension Program need to be thought through by the legislature. She pointed out that in 3/4 of Georgia’s 159 counties, Agriculture is the number one industry. Reece said that it is clear that the University Board of Regents came up with cuts that were "not thought through and hastily made."
Meanwhile, State Senator Seth Harp who chairs the Senate’s Higher Education Committee said that the Board of Regents Proposal was " a blending of budget and politics. They were playing a trump card."
Regents Chancellor Erroll Davis says whether the 4-H program survives depends on how deep the budget cuts will go.
"We have not recommended any cuts in 4 H," he says. "They are on a list of potential cuts if we had to make draconian reductions."
Davis gave assurances to rural lawmakers that 4-H would not be one of the first things to go. The state-wide program is run by the University of Georgia.
AM 1180 / GPB