State House members angry with Senate's changes to budget

DULUTH - Gwinnett's House members expressed anger Thursday at a recent move by the Senate to gut the state's supplemental 2007 budget.

"There are so many things we did right and for someone to play politics with it is disheartening," Rep. Mike Coan, R-Lawrenceville, said at Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce's town hall meeting. "I get angry because it's not the right thing to do. It's a raping of the process."

A day after the House passed its spending plan, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and senators presented a scaled-back version with cuts to earmarks.

Coan, a member of the appropriations committee and chairman of the industrial relations committee, said the Senate "hijacked" a bill he wrote to set unemployment insurance rates with the budget version, but the bill was released because its failure would have meant an additional surcharge for businesses.

Four Gwinnett representatives attended Thursday's town hall meeting, but no senators attended.

Rep. John Heard, R-Lawrenceville, said these budget situations are "not uncommon," but he was unhappy about "the work that they did in two days to repair the work we did in two months."

As chairman of the House Education Committee, Rep. Brooks Coleman, R-Duluth, said he was proud of work to give school systems more flexibility on class sizes.

But Gwinnett County initiatives on registration of rental properties and nuisance abatement did not make Tuesday's Crossover Day deadline to pass one chamber in the General Assembly, the representatives said.