To the editor:

According to the Nelson Rockefeller Institute of Government of the State University of New York, the personal income tax of the state of Georgia has declined 14.6 percent in 2009, while the sales tax revenues have declined 14.7 percent. These declines follow similar declines in 2007 and 2008, resulting in a loss of $4 billion in state revenue from 2007-2009.

One of the successful solutions of other states is privatization or managed competition initiatives, with government employees competing with the private sector for every service rendered the public. During former Gov. Jeb Bush’s term (1999-2007), Florida engaged in more than 138 privatization/managed competition initiatives saving taxpayers over $550 million annually. When other states were raising taxes, these initiatives helped Florida reduce almost $20 billion in taxes during Bush’s term. Over the same period, the total number of authorized positions fell by over 3,700.

Privatization/managed competition initiatives in Florida have ranged from highway maintenance, information technology, fleet management, medicaid billing, toll collections, online professional licensing, state psychiatric hospitals, prison food service to parks maintenance.

In March 2004, the State of Florida created a “Center Of Excellence” authorized to conduct a statewide evaluation of Florida’s competitive sourcing efforts. The new “Center For Efficient Government” (CFEG), subsequently codified by the Legislature as the “Council On Efficient Government” was also empowered to “identify opportunities for additional competition initiatives, and oversee execution of future competition projects.”

The CFEG mission is “to promote fair and transparent best business practices in government in order to foster accountability, competition, efficiency and innovation in the way state agencies serve Florida’s citizens.”

The center serves as the enterprise-wide gateway for best-business practices in competitive sourcing and standardizes how the state identifies opportunities, conducts competition, and awards and manages contracts for government services. The center serves as a trained unit that assists agencies with their competition initiatives, accountability, and communication. In addition, it explores opportunities for enterprise-wide solutions or initiatives.

I am pleased that Rep. Wendell Willard, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, was so impressed with the Florida success in privatization/managed competition that he used the Florida bill as a model for his proposed Georgia Bill (LC 14 0138), which Rep. Willard will introduce this week with the support of Gov. Perdue.

Rep. Willard has gone much further than the state of Florida. In the proposed Georgia bill, there is a provision 50-5C-7: “Funds may be appropriated to the Department of Community Affairs for grants to (cities, counties and/or school districts) to evaluate and implement partnership initiatives.” Included in Section 50-5C-6 is reference to Georgia counties, cities and school districts with regard to privatization and managed competition known as “partnership initiatives.”

The Fulton County Taxpayers Foundation has been a long-time advocate of privatization and managed competition. During the economic down-fall, privatization and managed competition will help the state, counties, cities and school cistricts overcome the precipitous drop in revenues.

John S. Sherman, President, Fulton County Taxpayers Foundation