A few days ago, Sanford Bishop leveled several charges against me regarding my public service as the mayor of Coolidge, as a member of the Thomas Board of Education and as a state representative. I would like to respond to each charge.
Once again Bishop has been less than truthful. These are the real numbers. I have nothing to hide, just as I will hide nothing from you when I represent you in Washington. The bottom line is you have a choice between two records. Sanford Bishop's liberal spending habits or Mike Keown's record of living within his means.
If you have any questions regarding these issues, give me a call on my cell at 229-224-4205.
1) "During his tenure as mayor of the City of Coolidge, the city's budget more than doubled at a rate of 111 percent from $124,000 in 1984, the year before he took office, to an increase of $261,840 in 1989."
I did not take office until January 1987, so, of course, I had nothing to do with the budgets prior to that date. The increase in the budget while I was mayor was from $205,094 in 1987 to $243,800 in 1990, less than $10,000 a year. The 1989 budget was the largest at $261,840, but it included a $17,500 Department of Natural Resources grant. We also completed a new sewer system in the city during this time. The budget minus the grant was $244,340. We actually reduced the budget in 1990.
In the 18 years Sanford Bishop has served in the U.S. House, the budget has grown from $1.41 trillion, with a deficit of $255 billion, to approximately $3.72 trillion, with a deficit of $1.56 Trillion.
2) "While Rep. Keown was a member of the Thomas County School Board from 1990 to 2003, spending more than doubled and occasionally exceeded the budget; the budget increased by 110 percent over these years."
In the 14 years I served on the Thomas County Board of Education, enrollment increased from 4,237 to 5,580, we built a new 3rd-5th grade school and began construction on a new middle school and new preK-K school. There were also several remodels and additions during this time. The overall budget rose from $23,162,165 to $30,972,220. As you can clearly see the statement that the spending doubled is clearly false.
In the 18 years Sanford Bishop has served in the U.S.House, the national debt has grown from $4.35 trillion, 66.1 percent of GDP, to $13.79 trillion, or 93.4 percent of GDP!
3) "In March of 2006, Rep. Keown voted in favor of HB 1027, giving himself a pay increase. In 2007, Rep. Keown not only introduced legislation to extend his term to four years, but he again voted himself a pay raise, supporting HB 95!"
HB 1027 and HB 95 were both general appropriations bills (the entire state budget) that included cost-of-living adjustments for all state employees. In 2006, the COLA was percent and in 2007 it was 2.89 percent. My legislative salary went from $16,524.00 to $17,341.68. In the last year, I also took one furlough day a month because most all state employees were taking furlough days, too.
Since Sanford Bishop has been in office in Washington, his salary has risen from approximately $130,000 a year to $174,000 a year. His increase of almost $45,000 a year is more than most people in southest Georgia make in a year!
I have made it no secret that I think running for re-election in Georgia every two years is counterproductive to the process of good government. My experience in the House has led me to believe the first year after the election is when the best work gets done, the second year is usually focused on political posturing to get re-elected -- on both sides of the aisle. The legislation I introduced would have been a state constitutional amendment that would have required a 2/3 vote of the House and Senate to appear on the ballot for the people of Georgia to approve or disapprove. More and more money is being spent on state campaigns, sometimes as much as $300,000 or more for a job that pays a little over $16,000 a year. There is something wrong with that picture. I believe, on the state level, four-year terms make a lot more sense but, again ,my proposal only asked for the people of Georgia to vote on the issue.
I also favor term limits and have made a promise to term limit myself at four terms (8 years) in Congress. Eighteen years is at least 10 years too long.
The bottom line is this. The time I spent as mayor of Coolidge, the city operated on a shoestring budget and a lot of prayer. We did a good job with little resources and I will challenge anyone to do it better. The 14 years I spent on the school board were prosperous years when we built schools and increased enrollment while putting most of the money to work in the classroom. My six years in the state legislature have been a time of living within our means and balancing the budget.
Sanford Bishop's 18 years in Congress have been a train wreck of ever-increasing deficits, runaway spending, out-of-control waste and fraud in the government and little regard for the folks back home who are paying the bill.
This campaign should be about the records of two men, one clearly conservative and one clearly liberal. I believe the negative attacks from the Bishop camp will only escalate in the next few weeks reinforcing the need for a change in Washington.
It's your choice.