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    An inquiry into possible wrongdoing by IT staffers employed by a number of Democrats in Congress has garnered more attention in recent days, after a prominent lawmaker gave a public tongue lashing to the Capitol Hill police chief, vowing “consequences” over his refusal to return computer equipment that is evidently part of the ongoing investigation. At issue is a probe into a possible security breach involving Imran Awan, who has worked for Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) and other Democratic lawmakers, as a shared information technology worker. Little has been made public by Capitol Police on what exactly is being investigated; news reports in recent months have linked Awan, several of his relatives, and his wife to some type of Capitol Hill investigation that could involve stolen property and more. The new scrutiny came after a budget hearing on May 18 with U.S. Capitol Police Chief Matthew Verderosa; the hearing before a House Appropriations subcommittee had escaped notice, until reports earlier this week by the Daily Caller, noting the sharp words that Wasserman Schultz had for Verderosa. At the end of her Q&A with the police chief, Wasserman Schultz asks what happens when police find lost items. “I’d like to know how Capitol Police handle equipment that belongs to a member, or a staffer, that’s been lost within the Capitol complex, and found or recovered by one of your officers,” Wasserman Schultz begins. The bottom line from the chief was simple – until an investigation is completed, “I can’t return the equipment,” which is reportedly a laptop from Wasserman Schultz’s office. That answer did not satisfy the Florida Democrat. “I think you’re violating the rules when you conduct your business that way,” Wasserman Schultz said bluntly, as she told the chief that he should “expect that there will be consequences.” In the wake of that somewhat jarring verbal exchange, a reporter on Thursday asked House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi about the Awan investigation. “I’m really not familiar with what you’re talking about,” Pelosi said. “We’ve been busy with a lot of other things,” Pelosi added. U.S. Capitol Police have released little information about what this probe involves, and who exactly is being investigated. According to U.S. House spending records, Imran Awan was a shared employee for thirteen different House members in 2016, earning in the third quarter anywhere from as little as $300 from a pair of Democrats to $6,624.99 from another. Wasserman Schultz paid Awan $5,000.01 for work between July 1 and September 30, 2016. Awan’s wife, Hina Alvi, worked for seven Democrats, plus the House Democratic Caucus, earning close to $44,000 in the third quarter of 2016. Records also show two relatives of Awan’s on the Congressional payroll: Abid Awan worked for eight different House Democrats, while Jamal Awan worked for eight others – all as ‘shared’ employees.
  • As lawmakers trooped out of the U.S. Capitol on Thursday and headed home until early June, Senate Republicans told reporters they were making progress, but were still nowhere near finalizing a deal on a major overhaul of the Obama health law. “Doing nothing is not an option,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), as top Republicans tried to project a feeling that the GOP is making some headway in making changes to a bill approved in the House earlier this month. “I believe Senators across the ideological spectrum are proceeding in good faith,” said Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). “Leader McConnell is doing a great job right now, focusing on the priorities that we’ve all agreed to, that are broken under Obamacare,” said Sen. David Perdue (R-GA), who said he thought there would be legislative language put together in the near future by GOP Senators. NEWS: Johnson says committee and leader staff will put together a draft senate hc bill over the weeklong recess. Says isnt final product — Robert King (@rking_19) May 25, 2017 But one thing no one was talking about on the GOP side, was when a health care bill might get to the Senate floor for an actual debate, and vote. “We’re a long ways from that,” said Sen. Mike Rounds (R-ND), “but you’ve got to start with something to begin with. And that’s what this is all about.” But the schedule is already squeezing Republicans, as there are four work weeks in June, plus three in July – then Congress is scheduled to leave for a five week summer break that lasts until Labor Day. Not only are there few work days, but Republicans still have to get the House bill past the scrutiny of the Senate Parliamentarian, and then make sure any changes also pass muster with strict Senate rules governing budget reconciliation, which prevents a bill from being subject to a 60 vote filibuster. One item from the House bill that could be in trouble in the Senate, is the idea of allowing states to opt out of certain requirements from the Obama health law, like the list of “Essential Health Benefits” that must be covered by insurance. on a serious note, though, Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan just said he opposes any waivers from Obamacare insurance rules — Dylan Scott (@dylanlscott) May 25, 2017 How Republicans might broker some of the differences wasn’t clear as members headed for the airport, though individual Senators are clearly looking for a breakthrough. “Can you talk to me in two weeks? We’re working on something,” Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) told reporters, refusing to give any hints of what he is trying to cobble together on coverage. “No, cause I don’t know if it works. I’m running it by actuaries, I’m running it by people who really know their stuff,” Cassidy added. And that’s where Republicans are right now – still searching for a deal, while the clock keeps ticking.
  • In another legal setback for President Donald Trump, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals refused on Thursday to lift an injunction against his revised travel and refugee order, preventing the White House from suspending new visas for people from six Muslim-majority countries, as this decision took another step on the way to a likely showdown on the matter at the U.S. Supreme Court. As in earlier rulings, the judges cited the President’s own words calling for a “Muslim ban,” ruling that the order was basically an effort to target “Muslims for exclusion from the United States.” “These statements, taken together, provide direct specific evidence” of what spurred the executive orders, the court’s majority wrote in a 202 page decision. “President Trump’s desire to exclude Muslims from the United States,” the opinion read. BREAKING: Appeals court rules against President Trump's revised travel ban targeting Muslim-majority countries. — The Associated Press (@AP) May 25, 2017 Not only did the ruling quote Mr. Trump, but also some of his top aides and advisers, like White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, and others. The judges rejected an argument by the Trump Administration that the order was done in the name of national security, saying the record shows Mr. Trump belatedly consulted agencies that deal with that matter, and only after his first travel order had been derailed in the courts. The President’s order would impact people coming into the United States from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen – Iraq had been on the original order, but was taken off when that first plan was revised. The ruling was the first of two from federal appellate courts – the Ninth Circuit also must pass judgment on the plan. Press reporting as trump'largely'lost. No,he 100% https://t.co/GBoxCFIFuI 10-3.Only thing he won irrel technical detail if he could be named — Neal Katyal (@neal_katyal) May 25, 2017 “The Muslim ban continues to be 100% blocked from going into effect nationwide, by an overwhelming vote,” said lawyer Neal Katyal, who argued this same issue before the Ninth Circuit for the state of Hawaii.
  • After an outcry from the British government, President Donald Trump on Thursday ordered an internal investigation by the U.S. Justice Department, to find out who leaked information about the probe into this week’s terrorist attack in England, saying those responsible for the leaks should be “prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.” “The alleged leaks coming out of government agencies are deeply troubling,” the President said in a statement issued in Belgium, his latest stop on a nine day overseas trip. “These leaks have been going on for a long time and my Administration will get to the bottom of this. The leaks of sensitive information pose a grave threat to our national security,” Mr. Trump added. BREAKING: Trump says his administration will `get to the bottom' of leaks; he orders review and possible prosecution — AP Politics (@AP_Politics) May 25, 2017 Mr. Trump, who has voiced his frustration with intelligence leaks throughout his first four months in office, made clear he wants to find the source of the leak, as photos of evidence from the scene made their way on to the front page of the New York Times, angering British investigators. “I am asking the Department of Justice and other relevant agencies to launch a complete review of this matter, and if appropriate, the culprit should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” the President said. “There is no relationship we cherish more than the Special Relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom,” Mr. Trump added in his statement. Manchester Police @gmpolice stop sharing information with US following intelligence leak to @nytimes, BBC are reporting — Rob S (@RobPulseNews) May 25, 2017 Earlier in the day, the President did not answer questions from reporters about the leak, which involved forensic evidence from the bombing scene.
  • Now that the Congressional Budget Office has weighed in on a House-passed GOP health care bill, Republicans must still do a lot of work to not only forge a plan in the Senate, but also figure out how to get it to the President’s desk for his signature. The CBO report found the revised GOP plan, which was approved earlier this month, would save $119 billion over ten years, and would result in 23 million fewer people having health insurance by 2026, than under Obamacare. The report also raised questions about coverage for those with pre-existing conditions, and found that low income Americans between ages 50 to 64 would be hit with large price hikes. Here’s where we stand on GOP efforts to overhaul the Obama health law: 1. Senate Republicans still searching for a deal. The CBO score didn’t change anything for Republicans, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Wednesday that he’s still looking for fifty votes to advance a health care plan in the Senate. GOP Senators have been talking regularly behind closed doors, floating a variety of plans, but they don’t seem to be near an agreement. Complicating matters is that Republicans can only lose two votes and keep things on track. Bill Cassidy and Susan Collins said the CBO report showed the House Obamacare replacement was not adequate. — governn1 (@governn1) May 24, 2017 2. For now, it’s only Republicans at the table. While there have been some bipartisan meetings, the official GOP effort is not reaching across the aisle on health care. Senate Majority Leader McConnell has made that clear that he is not interested in bringing Democrats aboard to cut a health care deal, arguing that they won’t even acknowledge the problems that exist in Obamacare right now. Again, with such a small margin for error, not having any Democratic votes make life difficult for the GOP. McConnell on why no Ds in healthcare talks: 'We're not going to waste our time talking to people who have no interest in fixing the problem' — Frank Thorp V (@frankthorp) May 23, 2017 3. There still is the option of not passing anything. Senate GOP leaders have indicated to reporters that a vote will occur in coming months, even if that plan gets rejected by the Senate. That could result in something that President Trump had floated months ago, just letting troubles mount in the Obamacare system until it creates enough blowback from the public to force action in the Congress. Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) yesterday raised that as a possibility. With today's news, the 'Collapse and Replace' of Obamacare may prove to be the most effective path forward. — Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) May 24, 2017 4. It’s easier to be against than for something on health care. Democrats have been much more organized in recent weeks in terms of arguing against GOP plans, while Republicans have struggled to forge a unified public message for their health care overhaul effort. It is the exact opposite of where we were for the last seven years, when Republicans were the ones taking pot shots at the Obama health law, and Democrats were acting skittish. And even the poll numbers have flipped as well – this is a Fox News poll: Fox News Poll: ObamaCare opinion. #SpecialReport pic.twitter.com/sG21ZU85Et — Fox News (@FoxNews) May 24, 2017 5. $1,000 a month for maternity coverage? In its report, the Congressional Budget Office said if states decide to allow for lower cost plans that have less coverage, then people should expect extras, like maternity coverage, would not be cheap. “Insurers would expect most purchasers to use the benefits and would therefore price that rider at close to the average cost of maternity coverage, which could be more than $1,000 per month,” the CBO wrote. Let’s just say that example didn’t play too well with female Democrats in the Congress #CBO confirms what we already knew: #Trumpcare is dangerous & would screw over women, seniors, and working families. — Senator Mazie Hirono (@maziehirono) May 24, 2017 6. Who are the 23 million more who won’t have coverage?This is an interesting figure from the CBO, because it is immediately challenged by opponents of Obamacare, who argue that people should have the right to *not* buy health insurance, and that most of those going without insurance will fall into that category. But that’s not what the CBO found. The report says 14 million people who are currently covered by Medicaid would go uninsured – presumably because they couldn’t afford insurance. Another six million would stop having coverage with changes in the state and federal exchanges. 7. Will health care derail a GOP seat in Montana? A few hours after the CBO report was issued on the House-passed health plan, the story turned into a WWE event, as a reporter claimed a Montana Republican candidate for Congress body slammed him after being asked about the CBO numbers. We’ll see if the dispute causes any aftershocks at the polls in the Big Sky State tonight.
  • A review of a Republican health care overhaul plan which passed the House earlier this month found it would result in 23 million fewer people having health insurance over the next ten years, as the Congressional Budget Office questioned whether some GOP changes might promote instability in state health insurance markets. The most important figure from the CBO review was that the plan would reduce the budget deficit by $119 billion over ten years, ending any concerns that the measured would be derailed by strict budget rules used in the Senate. The CBO review was slightly better than one on an earlier version of the House bill when it comes to the number of people who would not have health insurance – 23 million by 2026, compared to 24 million before changes were made to win enough votes for passage in the House. BREAKING: Budget office: 23 million more uninsured, lower premiums for less coverage under GOP House-passed health care bill. — AP Politics (@AP_Politics) May 24, 2017 But the report raised some concerns with a pivotal change made by Republicans, which allows states to get waivers from certain key provisions of the Obama health law – allowing states to peel back certain “Essential Health Benefits,” and changes in how insurance companies can set premiums based on someone’s health status, something known as “community rating.” “As a result, the nongroup markets in those states would become unstable for people with higher-than-average expected health care costs,” the CBO report stated. “That instability would cause some people who would have been insured in the nongroup market under current law to be uninsured,” the report added. CBO estimates that in states requesting AHCA waivers, premiums for low-income elderly enrollees would go up 800 percent. That is not a typo. pic.twitter.com/W7QC4z9UUS — Sarah Kliff (@sarahkliff) May 24, 2017 The release of the CBO numbers came as Senate Republicans continued to work behind closed doors on their own health care plan. “We have to have the goal of lowering premiums for Americans,” said Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA). “And it has to be credible coverage.” As of now, GOP Senators are only working with each other, and not trying to gain the votes of any Democrats. It’s a very small margin for error for the GOP, which can only afford to lose two of their 52 members – and then would have to rely on the tie breaking vote of Vice President Mike Pence. McConnell on why no Ds in healthcare talks: 'We're not going to waste our time talking to people who have no interest in fixing the problem' — Frank Thorp V (@frankthorp) May 23, 2017 “Regardless of any CBO score, it’s no secret Obamacare is collapsing under its own weight,” said Sen. David Perdue (R-GA). “Doing nothing is not an option.” At this point, the health care bill approved by the House on May 4 still has not been sent to the Senate, as Republicans try to figure out that next step. The House and Senate are not in legislative session next week, meaning any action by Republicans will be pushed into June. The longer it takes to resolve health care legislation, the longer it will take to deal with the 2018 budget and President Trump’s plans on tax reform.
  • While some of the plans proposed in President Donald Trump’s $4.1 trillion budget for 2018 seem unlikely to be approved by the Congress, the document sets out a unique road map of how the Trump Administration views a variety of functions within the federal government, and what items the White House would like to get rid of – big and small. Here are eight things you might have missed in the fine print of the 2018 Trump budget: 1. An effort to close down excess military bases. The Trump budget includes a provision to start a round of military base closures in 2021, an idea that is sure to draw strong opposition, despite clear evidence that the military has too much overhead and infrastructure. Lawmakers have routinely rejected such efforts in recent years, with some still simmering about the impact of past base closure rounds – especially the last one in 2005. “The Department of Defense (DOD) has approximately 20 percent excess infrastructure capacity across all Military Departments,” the budget argues. While it may make sense to some, the odds are probably stacked against this provision in the Congress. File this under 'things that will go nowhere.' Trump's Pentagon budget proposes a BRAC, @LeoShane writes. https://t.co/xnvAv755VV — Valerie Insinna (@ValerieInsinna) May 23, 2017 2. End funding for public broadcasting. For a number of years, Republicans have pushed to reduce the amount of money that the feds put into public broadcasting, and President Trump’s plan would do away with almost all the $484 million being spent this year on such activities, leaving $30 million to wind down operations. The White House argues that PBS and NPR ” could make up the shortfall by increasing revenues from corporate sponsors, foundations, and members.” As with the effort to close down military bases, the odds would seem to be against this – but Congress will have the final say. As expected, Trump's budget calls for zeroing out funding for public broadcasting, arts and humanities. https://t.co/79EO9ZOeJM — Ted Johnson (@tedstew) May 23, 2017 3. When is a Medicaid cut not a Medicaid cut? I have always tried to be very careful about using the term “cut” – because too often, there are not budget cuts, but just reductions in the level of increase in a program. Let’s look at Medicaid in the President’s 2018 budget as an example: If you look at this graphic, you will see how the President’s budget would save $610 billion by reforming Medicaid. The second set of figures is the “baseline” for Medicaid – where spending would go without any changes. That says $408 billion would be spent on Medicaid in 2018, ending up at $688 billion in 2027. The bottom graphic is the Trump proposal, which has Medicaid at $404 billion in 2018 and $524 billion in 2027. “There’s not cuts at all,” said Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS). “It’s a matter of slowing the growth rate.” Yes, the Trump plan would spend less money than current built-in automatic growth rate, but the overall amount still goes up over the ten year budget. 4. But those are real cuts at CDC and NIH. One of the areas with some of the strongest bipartisan support is on medical research at the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control. And so, when the numbers came in on Tuesday, there was a bipartisan negative reaction on cuts to NIH and CDC. NIH funding would be reduced by from $31.8 billion to $25.9 billion. CDC’s budget would go down $1.2 billion, a 17 percent cut. It’s a pretty good bet that lawmakers will not approve those cuts suggested by the President. The former head of the CDC expressed his displeasure: Proposed CDC budget: unsafe at any level of enactment. Would increase illness, death, risks to Americans, and health care costs. — Dr. Tom Frieden (@DrFrieden) May 23, 2017 5. Still few details on funding infrastructure plan. For months, the President and his top aides have talked about a $1 trillion infrastructure plan to build new roads and bridges in the United States. There was a fact sheet released by the White House, setting out some ideas, like rolling back regulations on how infrastructure projects are developed, but no new pot of money to fund $200 billion in seed money. “Providing more federal funding, on its own, is not the solution to our infrastructure challenges,” the White House noted. One of the few ideas offered was to allow states to levy tolls on interstate highways, and allow private companies to run rest areas. The Trump plan reduces spending from the highway trust fund by $95 billion over ten years. 6. Farm country not pleased with Trump budget details. If you had an infrared heat detector just off the Senate floor today, you might have seen the steam coming from the ears of Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), the Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee. Speaking with reporters, Roberts – well known for his dry wit – suggested the White House needs to make its budget writers count to 60 multiple times every day – to remind them that 60 votes would be needed for major farm policy spending changes. The Trump plan would save $38 billion over 10 years by limiting crop insurance subsidies and eligibility, streamlining conservation programs and more. Outside groups quickly made their voices heard on the proposed changes as well. It is hard to imagine these plans becoming law. The time and place to debate farm bill programs is during the #farmbill, not the annual budget. #Budget2018 — NCGA Public Policy (@NCGA_DC) May 23, 2017 7. Legal Services Corporation again on the chopping block. One of the first debates that I distinctly remember from my first summer on Capitol Hill in 1980 was an effort to cut money from the non-profit Legal Services Corporation, which provides legal aid to low income Americans. The LSC budget is $384 million for this year, and under the Trump plan, would be cut down to around $30 million, to allow for operations to be terminated. Again, this is another budget cut that seems unlikely to be approved, as GOP lawmakers, like Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH), are already saying they oppose such a plan. I support funding of @LSCtweets. #READ why it's important via @daytondailynews: https://t.co/VZL37GU0CL — US Rep. Mike Turner (@RepMikeTurner) May 20, 2017 8. Trump wants to sell D.C. drinking water authority. Created by Congress in 1859, the Washington Aqueduct brings drinking water to Washington, D.C., and parts of the Virginia suburbs. While the drinking facilities operate under the auspices of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the water customers pay for all the operation and maintenance costs, as well as any improvements. Why does the White House want to sell this? “Ownership of local water supply is best carried out by State or local government or the private sector where there are appropriate market and regulatory incentives,” the budget documents state. It’s not clear how the feds estimated that selling the authority would bring in $119 million for Uncle Sam. Very proud to be your public servants! pic.twitter.com/BEOQXuYhmu — Washington Aqueduct (@WAqueduct) May 8, 2017 If you want to read more of the details about the Trump 2018 budget, you can find those on the White House website.
  • Former CIA Director John Brennan told Congress on Tuesday that he was so concerned about intelligence that showed contacts between Russian officials and people linked to the campaign of President Donald Trump, that he warned key members of Congress and other intelligence agencies about the Russian actions, and sent that information on to the FBI for further investigation. It became very clear to me last summer, that Russia was engaged in a very aggressive and wide ranging effort to interfere,” Brennan said, revealing that he had brought in experts from around the U.S. Intelligence Community to try to figure out what the Kremlin was doing. “I encountered and am aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and US Persons involved in the Trump campaign,” Brennan told the House Intelligence Committee, as part of its review of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections. At a hearing, Brennan refused to identify anyone by name, or give any indication as to whether the Russians had been successful in getting the “witting or unwitting” help of any Americans, to further the Kremlin’s 2016 efforts. Brennan says he encountered intelligence revealing 'contacts and interactions' between Russian officials, people involved in Trump campaign. pic.twitter.com/5RqwmAVe1U — ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) May 23, 2017 Pressed by several GOP lawmakers, Brennan acknowledged that he did not know of any evidence of collusion between the Trump Campaign and the Kremlin – but Brennan said that was for the FBI to investigate, not the CIA. “I don’t know whether or not such collusion – and that’s your term – such collusion existed, I don’t know,” Brennan said. Brennan also denied that he had made last minute requests to unmask names of any U.S. Persons – possibly linked to the Trump Campaign – before the former CIA Director left the agency as President Trump was sworn into office on January 20, 2017. Gowdy asks if Brennan made unmasking request on his last day (Jan 20 ) and Brennan says he did not. — Laura Rozen (@lrozen) May 23, 2017 The Russia investigation was also grabbing the attention of Senators at the same time, as Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats refused to say whether he had been pressured by the President – or by White House officials – to try to get the FBI to drop its investigation into the Russia matter. “I don’t feel it’s appropriate to characterize conversations with the President,” Coats said. A former Senator, Coats seemed ill at ease as he sidestepped the queries of some of his former colleagues. Intel chief Dan Coats says he can’t comment on reports Trump asked the him to deny evidence of Russia collusion https://t.co/P0m0kAvn09 — CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) May 23, 2017
  • President Donald Trump is sending Congress a spending plan for 2018 that would increase money spent on defense and border security, cut many areas of non-defense spending by Uncle Sam, and achieve a balanced budget by 2027, though it would add several trillion dollars to the national debt along the way. Here are some of the early highlights from the Trump budget. 1. Over $3.1 trillion in new debt over 10 years. The Trump budget does get to a surplus – but it takes ten years to reach that point, in 2027. So, even if this President serves two terms in office, he would be gone from the White House before balancing the budget under this plan. Despite all the talk about cuts, the President’s 2018 budget would not get the yearly budget deficit below $400 billion until 2023. Here are the yearly deficit estimates under the Trump 2018 budget plan, which add up to $3.15 trillion in more debt over the next ten years: 2018 – $440 billion 2019 – $526 billion 2020 – $488 billion 2021 – $456 billion 2022 – $442 billion 2023 – $319 billion 2024 – $209 billion 2025 – $176 billion 2026 – $110 billion 2027 – $16 billion surplus 2. Real cuts in Trump plan, but beware the numbers.You will hear a lot of reporting that the President’s 2018 budget envisions $1.4 trillion in cuts over ten years in non-defense spending. Don’t believe that, because of the way Congress totals up spending cuts. But, the Trump budget will actually cut the amount of discretionary spending by 2027, not just have the budget grow by a smaller amount each year. For example, in 2018, the President’s plan would spend $1.244 trillion on programs outside of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security (known as discretionary spending programs, which are voted on each year by the Congress) – that number would be trimmed to $1.151 trillion in 2027, according to figures provided by the White House. I know a little about math, as that is an actual spending cut of 7.5 percent – this is not just a reduction in a planned level of increase. 3. What areas will take the biggest budget hit? While the Pentagon, border security, Veterans Affairs and homeland defense will see overall increases under this Trump plan, a number of other federal departments and agencies would see cuts in 2018. (These would be real cuts, not just a reduction in a level of increase.) Here are the biggest losers in percentage terms: + EPA – 31.4% budget cut (from $8.2 to $5.7 billion) + State Department & foreign aid – 29.1% budget cut + Agriculture – 20.5% budget cut ($22.7 to $18 billion) + Labor – 19.8% cut ($12.1 to $9.7 billion) + HHS – 16.2% cut (from $78 to $65.3 billion) + Commerce – 15.8% cut (from $9.2 to $7.8 billion) + Education – 13.5% cut (from $68.2 to $59 billion) + HUD – 13.2% cut (from $46.9 to $40.7 billion) + Transportation – 12.7% cut ($18.6 to $16.2 billion) 4. Cool GOP reaction to parental leave plan. Pressed by his daughter Ivanka, the President’s budget sets aside $25 billion over ten years for a project that is sure to draw more support from Democrats than Republicans – allowing parents time off to be with a newborn baby. “For the first time ever – by any administration of any party – we are proposing a nationwide, paid parental leave,” said Mulvaney. The plan would allow for six weeks of time off – Democrats have proposed plans that have double that amount of leave and more. The initial reaction from Republicans was as you might expect – they’re not into the idea. Cornyn on Ivanka's $25B family leave plan: 'Happy to talk to her … but obviously when it comes to spending it's a matter or priorities' — Burgess Everett (@burgessev) May 22, 2017 5. Federal workers would see retirement changes. The President’s budget would look to reduce retirement benefits for federal workers, saving an estimated $72 billion over ten years, according to figures released by the White House. Among the ideas, reducing retirement benefits by limiting and/or eliminating yearly cost of living adjustments; and increase the amount of money employees must contribute to their retirement plan. The details are sure to draw complaints from federal employee unions and lawmakers in the Washington, D.C. region. Fed'l workers earned their #pension benefits. Cutting pensions to fund tax breaks for wealthy people and corporations is wrong. #resist https://t.co/r7D4hdeBX9 — Alliance Retirees (@ActiveRetirees) May 22, 2017 Many more details will be available on Wednesday morning, as the budget – titled a “New Foundation for American Greatness,” is delivered to Capitol Hill. “If I had sort of a subtitle for this budget, it would be the “Taxpayer First Budget,” said White House budget chief Mick Mulvaney. Mulvaney will get the chance to defend the plan starting Wednesday on Capitol Hill.
  • Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn invoked his Fifth Amendment rights on Monday, as his lawyers refused to honor a subpoena for documents from a U.S. Senate committee investigating Russian interference in the 2016 elections, the first time that someone with close ties to President Trump has refused to cooperate in the course of this politically charged investigation. “In these circumstances, General Flynn is entitled to, and does, invoke his Fifth Amendment privilege against production of documents,” wrote Flynn’s lawyers in a letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee. “He is the target on nearly a daily basis of outrageous allegations, often attributed to anonymous sources in Congress,” the letter stated, decrying an “escalating public frenzy against him.” BREAKING: Flynn’s letter to Senate committee cites ‘escalating public frenzy’ in refusing to turn over records in Russia probe. — AP Politics (@AP_Politics) May 22, 2017 Flynn’s lawyers also cited the appointment last week of a special counsel to the probe into Russian influence in 2016 as reason to withhold testimony at this time. The decision by Flynn did not surprise committee members; last week, panel chairman Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) had told reporters that Flynn was not going to honor their subpoena for documents on meetings and communications with “any Russian official.” It was not immediately apparent what the Intelligence Committee could do to compel Flynn to either testify, or turn over documents. One option is holding Flynn in contempt of Congress – but that does not guarantee cooperation of a witness, either. Warner tells me he expects Comey to testify in two weeks; says he and Burr will discuss next steps on Flynn, including if contempt on table — Manu Raju (@mkraju) May 22, 2017 During the 2016 campaign, Flynn himself had made light of people who had taken the Fifth in the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email server, as well as those who were granted immunity. “When you’re given immunity, that means you probably committed a crime,” Flynn told NBC’s Meet the Press on September 25, 2016. @HillaryClinton IT specialist takes 5th over 100 times. #Trump2016 #fieldoffight #AmericaFirst https://t.co/5U4R8FQ8JN — General Flynn (@GenFlynn) June 23, 2016 Democrats not only dug up old quotes of Flynn, but also some from President Trump, where he also raised questions about those same aides with ties to the Clinton email server. “If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?” Mr. Trump asked at a rally in Iowa last September. Flynn has come under scrutiny for several things – his contacts with Russian officials during the Trump transition, not disclosing payments from Russian groups in 2015 as required for former top military officers, and belatedly disclosing that he was working as a paid agent of the Turkish government, even as he was campaigning for Mr. Trump last year.

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  • Lake Lanier has a deadly reputation, and an examination at the statistics suggests it's warranted. Since 1994, northeast Georgia's favorite manmade lake — which touches parts of Gwinnett, Hall, Forsyth, Dawson and Lumpkin counties — has seen at least 160 people die. That's according to official statistics maintained by the Department of Natural Resources, which include boating-related fatalities and drownings (though drowning statistics were not kept between 1994 and 1998). The numbers also do not include an unofficial tally of this year's incidents, which include at least two deaths. This year's deaths include those of a Buford man who drowned in February and ajet skier from Cumming who drowned after a crash in April. In 2016, Lake Lanier saw 17 deaths, including nine drownings and eight boating-related fatalities. DNR statistics also track drownings, boating fatalities, boating under the influence and other 'boating incidents' that occur at each of the eight key lakes the agency patrols: Allatoona, Blackshear, Clarks Hill, Hartwell, Jackson, Lanier, Oconee and Sinclair. During the five years from 2011 to 2015, Lake Lanier had the lion's share of each category: • Drownings: 32 of 65, or 49.2 percent, occured on Lake Lanier. • Boating fatalities: 20 of 33, 0r 60.6 percent, occurred on Lake Lanier. • BUIs: 265 of 584, or 45.4 percent, occurred on Lake Lanier. • Total boating incidents: 174 of 342, or 50.8 percent, occurred on Lake Lanier. DNR spokesman Mark McKinnon attributed Lake Lanier's incident rate to the sheer number of visitors it draws.  'There are simply more incidents on Lanier due to the volume of visitors,' McKinnon told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution last year. 'Lanier has many more boaters and swimmers than any other lake in the state, including Allatoona.'  That said, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimates that Lanier welcomes about 7.5 million visitors each year, while Allatoona, in northwest Georgia, sees around 7 million. That's about a 7 percent difference — but over the decade that ended in 2015, twice as many people have died on Lanier (90) as Allatoona (45).
  • The University of Georgia will sponsor additional research to learn more about the lives of the individuals whose gravesites were discovered during the construction of the Baldwin Hall expansion. The work is two-pronged, consisting of further DNA analysis of the remains and a historical mapping study to learn more about the physical environment in which the individuals likely lived and worked. Following the discovery of the remains in November 2015, the university immediately consulted with the State Archaeologist's Office for guidance. The university then commissioned a team of faculty, graduate students and undergraduate students in the anthropology department to explore ancestry, age, sex and other characteristics of the individuals. About one-third of the 105 gravesites yielded samples suitable for DNA analysis, and the researchers found that the vast majority of these individuals were of maternal African descent. UGA Vice President for Research David Lee solicited further faculty input following the reinterment of the remains earlier this spring. He also consulted with leaders of the local African-American community. 'The university is committed to building upon the preliminary research and learning more about the lives of the men, women and children-who were likely slaves or former slaves, given the time period-whose remains were found adjacent to the Old Athens Cemetery on the Baldwin Hall site,' said Lee. 'These additional research efforts will help us in that pursuit.' The Office of Research will coordinate the next steps as follows: 1. The university will commission further DNA analysis to be conducted by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin who specialize in the analysis of ancient DNA. These researchers already have been engaged with UGA assistant professor Laurie Reitsema in the first phase of research, which provided information only about maternal ancestry. The additional analysis will provide information about paternal ancestry and thus, paint a comprehensive picture of ancestral origin. It also will confirm the sex of the individuals and determine whether any of those buried on the site were related to one another. This detailed analysis should be completed within the coming year. 2. The supplemental DNA information gained through Step 1 could provide the reference materials needed to determine if any living community members are related to the individuals whose remains were found at the Baldwin Hall site. The Office of Research is exploring the means by which to make this option available, as economically as possible, to local citizens wishing to pursue a possible DNA linkage. 3. Professor Marguerite Madden, director of UGA's Center for Geospatial Research, will lead a team to create a dynamic time-series visualization of the cultural and natural landscape surrounding Baldwin Hall from the 1800s to the present. This project will incorporate historic maps, aerial photographs, satellite images and drone video to reveal more about the environment in which the individuals buried on the Baldwin Hall site lived and worked. In addition, the research will document the evolution of the cemetery and campus to present day. Most of this research will be done over the next several months. Madden's efforts will complement those of Southeastern Archaeological Services Inc., which will be conducting archival research and mapping services using ground-penetrating radar to identify, to the extent possible via this technology, the boundaries of the Old Athens Cemetery. Southeastern's mapping data will be included in the final report on the Baldwin Hall site that is required for submittal by the Office of University Architects to the State Archaeologist's Office.
  • With the help of two physical therapists and training equipment, Devon Gales, who suffered a significant neck injury while playing for Southern University against Georgia in the fall of 2015, walked on Thursday.   Gales was injured on a kickoff return collision with former Georgia kicker Marshall Morgan. Since then, Gales has been taken in by the Bulldogs as one of their own, initially led by former coach Mark Richt and continued by Bryant Gantt and the current staff.   Gales has appeared at Georgia football and basketball games during the last year and a half since his injury and had a long stay at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta before being able to return home to Baton Rouge.   He has occasionally posted videos of his progress on Twitter, always keeping a positive attitude and maintaining his goal of walking on his own one day. And in February, the University of Georgia announced a fundraising initiative to help the Gales family build a new house.
  • The Athens-Clarke County Leisure Services Department says the summer swim season begins tomorrow. Leisure Services operates five public pools in Athens: Bishop Park, Lay Park, Memorial Park, Rocksprings Park, and the East Athens Community Center. They’ll be open through August 6.  Pool Locations The Athens-Clarke County Leisure Services Department operates five outdoor pools. The pools are open during the summer months, only.  Bishop Park, 705 Sunset Drive, 706-613-3589 (open weekends, only) Memorial Park, 293 Gran Ellen Drive, 706-613-3580 East Athens Community Center, 400 McKinley Drive, 706-613-3593 Lay Park, 297 Hoyt Street, 706-613-3596 Rocksprings Park, 291 Henderson Ext, 706-613-3603
  • From UGA Sports Communications ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. ----- A $4.451 million increase in the fiscal year 2018 budget, athletic director’s overview of the athletic program, and a detailed review and explanation of the reserve funds highlighted the annual spring meeting of the University of Georgia Athletic Association Board of Directors Thursday. The total Athletic Association budget for 2018 was approved at $127,590,041. J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics Greg McGarity’s report included an assessment of the overall athletic program. (full transcript of his report is included below). ‘’The responsibility to enhance our strengths and address our weaknesses lands on my desk’’ said McGarity. ‘’I know our program is not reaching its full potential. Our staff spends every day committed to moving our program forward, both collectively and sport by sport, and when we fall short of expectations, we are there to provide support, and when we win, we celebrate alongside each sport.’’ McGarity said the Athletic Association’s goal is for every one of the Bulldog sports to compete in its national championship.   ‘’This year, 16 of our 21 sports did just that,’’ he said. ‘’As with every year, some teams met or exceeded their expectations while some experienced uncharacteristic results. We still have teams competing in their NCAA Championships, so we still have work to do. Eight of our 21 teams have finished among the nation’s Top 10, with men’s and women’s outdoor track and field to be held in Oregon in early June. Both of our teams are projected to finish in the Top 10. I feel confident that we will see marked improvement in numerous sports in the near, if not immediate, future.’’ The 2018 budget marked the first portion of a lengthy report by treasurer Ryan Nesbit, UGA Vice President for Finance and Administration. Nesbit also detailed the Athletic Association reserve funds and outlined spending restrictions. He said the total operating reserve funds amounted to $68.1 million; however, only $36.9 million of that amount are available to support credit ratings, future projects, and maintain a standard operating reserve to provide funding for unforeseen events. (A condensed summation of Nesbit’s report follows below and accompanies the attached slides.) Among the highlights of the many reports came from Faculty Athletics Representative David Shipley, who announced that UGA’s 511 student-athletes posted a best-ever 3.13 grade point average in the recently completed Spring Semester.   Other highlights of the Athletics Board meeting included the following: • A presentation by Executive Associate AD Josh Brooks on the following current facilities construction projects: Phase 2 of Stegeman Coliseum upgrades that include all new seating, center court-hung scoreboard, as well as lighting and sound systems; the resurfacing of Spec Towns Track, scheduled for an Aug. 1 completion; reconstruction of the soccer stadium grandstand at the Jack Turner Soccer/Softball Complex; expansion and renovation of the Boyd Golf Center; upgrading of the restrooms on the 100, 200 and 300 levels at Sanford Stadium; beginning of the West End Zone project at Sanford Stadium. • A presentation by Executive Associate AD Matt Borman on his observations since beginning his position in Development in January of this year, and also on the progress of athletic fundraising efforts over the short and long terms. • A presentation from Shipley, representing the Student Wellness Committee, on the development of UGA’s Career Development program. Less than a year old, this program strives to counsel student-athletes on all aspects of career building and enhancement. • The announcement of the two student-athletes who will serve the 2017-18 year as representatives on the Board: distance runner Jonathan Pelham, a redshirt freshman from LaGrange, and soccer player Summer Burnett, a senior from Makakilo, Hawaii. • The introduction of Dr. Timothy Gray of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences as the newest member of the Athletics Board. Gray replaces Dr. Jennifer Samp as an elected faculty member of the Board. • The announcement of Kessel Stelling, 1978 UGA alumnus and Chairman/CEO of Synovus, will join the Athletics Board in 2017-18, replacing new emeritus member Don Leebern III. • A glowing academic report from Shipley, the text of which follows: Spring semester Grade Point Average (GPA) for all 511 Student-Athletes (SAs) is a best ever at 3.13. It surpassed the previous high of 3.06, representing a significant increase. Over 65 percent of our student-athletes were at B or above; 29.4% were between 3.50 and 3.99; and 24 (4.7% of the total) were at 4.00. This was the eighth consecutive semester and 10th in the last 12 in which the overall student-athlete GPA was above 3.00. Cross Country recorded the highest GPA among the men's teams with 3.43, while the top women’s team was Tennis with a 3.49. All UGA women’s teams had GPA’s above 3.00. The NCAA Academic Progress Rate (APR) for all UGA our teams was solid with Women’s Cross Country, Volleyball and Men’s Tennis having perfect scores of 1000. The APR provides a real-time look at a team’s academic success each semester by tracking the academic progress of each student-athlete on scholarship. The APR accounts for eligibility and retention and provides a measure of each team’s academic performance. 97 student-athletes graduated on May 5. Their graduation speaker was Ernie Johnson, our own 2016 Hartman Award recipient and a former baseball student-athlete at UGA. Full Text from J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics Greg McGarity: May 24, P.M. AD Report Narrative Thank you President Morehead Good morning. This is the seventh annual report I have had the privilege to deliver to members of our Athletic Board. I want to thank each of you, current and past board members, for the time you devote to our athletic program --- whether it’s spreading the word about UGA athletics, serving on a committee, being a sounding board, or lending an ear. People ask me frequently, how can I help? My response --- be “there”, be “present” and tell me what you really think. So I thank all of you for your offers of help and assistance. In my role as Athletic Director, I get to see the outstanding work our staff does on a daily basis to serve our student-athletes and the entire Bulldog Nation. Many positions in our department are very visible. However, the bulk of our work goes on beneath the surface and out of the limelight within departments such as compliance, maintenance, communications, marketing, promotions, student services and business operations. I want to express my appreciation to our entire staff and the scores of others who work hard every day on and off our campus for the betterment of our athletic association. We are truly blessed to have people who really care about the University of Georgia in our department. I have asked two of our senior staff members to make presentations today. Josh Brooks will talk about our facilities and Matt Borman will brief everyone on our Bulldog Club efforts. I’m confident you will find refreshing their insight as new staff members, who have joined, or in Josh’s case rejoined, our program after serving other institutions over the years. We look forward to these presentations. I would like to take a few moments and talk about the overall status of our program as it stands now, and as we look forward.  Much has been written about the status of our program from a competitive standpoint. Our stated goal is the extremely ambitious task of having every one of our sports competing in their national championship. This year, 16 of our 21 sports did just that. As with every year, some teams met or exceeded their expectations, some experienced uncharacteristic results. We still have teams competing in their NCAA Championship, so we still have work to do. Eight of our 21 teams have finished among the nation’s Top 10, with men’s and women’s outdoor track and field to be held in Oregon in early June. Both of our teams are projected to finish in the Top 10. I feel confident that we will see marked improvement in numerous sports in the near, if not immediate, future. Administratively, we continue to be committed to providing the resources necessary to make it happen. And the FY18 budget will reflect those commitments. The responsibility to enhance our strengths and address our weaknesses lands on my desk. I know our program is not reaching its full potential. Our staff spends every day committed to moving our program forward, both collectively and sport by sport, and when we fall short of expectations, we are there to provide support, and when we win, we celebrate alongside each sport. Regardless of the outcome, we remain loyal and dedicated to fully supporting our student-athletes and our coaches.  On the facility front, we have, or will have, invested over $95 million in our facilities over the past seven years. That total includes seven-figure projects at Sanford Stadium, Stegeman Coliseum, Foley Field, the Spec Towns Track, the Jack Turner Soccer Complex and the David Boyd Golf Center—and it doesn’t count the west end zone improvements in Sanford Stadium. That’s a million-dollar – and in most cases multi-million-dollar – investment in the competition facilities for 15 programs. Our board members have approved every one of these expenditures and each of you should feel a great deal of satisfaction about your efforts to make our physical plant exceptional. Believe me when I say that we have more than adequately invested in our TOTAL athletic program. That investment should be applauded.  I agree facilities are a vital part of an athletic program, and our plan of action over the years, and over the coming years, will provide the environment to thrive and compete at the highest levels in each sport. It has become commonplace to refer to facilities from school to school as an “arms race.” The game of comparing one school to another will always be a popular exercise for many. We will do what we think is best on a sport-by-sport basis for our teams in order to achieve all of our objectives on the field, in the classroom and in the community.  At this time, I would like to ask Josh Brooks to come forward and talk about his return to UGA, and his view of our facilities, both presently and in the future. Moving to the world of development, I’m proud to report the Georgia Bulldog Club – which has been the backbone of our fundraising efforts since it was founded decades ago – has set records once again. All of the credit for reaching these remarkable heights is a result of the leadership of our development staff, both past and present, along with 16,000 donors who provide support to our program.  The Magill Society initiative, launched in the Fall of 2015, is a remarkable story in itself. But it is not just the Magill Society alone --- it’s also scholarship endowments, sports-specific educational funds, naming opportunities --- it’s been a great year! And Ryan’s presentation demonstrated how our financial resources are essential to our annual operation. I would like to ask Matt Borman to come on up, and talk about the accomplishments of the Bulldog Club staff and share his thoughts with you at this time. I would like to thank Professor Shipley for earlier reviewing the academic report of our student-athletes for the past semester, and the past year. Ted White and his staff at the Rankin Smith Center are the very best in college athletics and the work they do every day to enrich the lives of our student-athletes is a wonderful story. Those efforts are validated often, most often at the end of each semester and none more so than on May 5th, during our graduation reception in Sanford Stadium prior to Commencement.  This special time is when the life of a student-athlete comes full circle. We saw these youngsters enter our program as wide-eyed teenagers. During orientation, we educate them on what’s ahead, what to look out for, how to prepare. We also let them know we are here to help, to help create an environment that allows them to excel in the classroom, in athletics and in life.  To have parents approach you to on that special day, to hear their appreciation for our staff helping their child in their journey to earn a degree, and to single out a staff member for good deeds done --- well, that’s priceless! In closing, I want to thank the President’s Office --- we are encircled by the persistent support we receive from President Morehead’s staff --- we appreciate your help . We are constantly amazed and appreciative of the depth, passion and concern our President affords the University of Georgia community on a daily basis. You are laser-focused on making UGA better every day, and that rubs off on all of us. Thanks for leading our school into the future --- we are in good hands. Our institution is the very birthplace of public higher education in our country. We have a legacy unlike any other. We have a college town unlike any other. So many have “committed to the G” --- and we are now asking everyone who believes in all of the “good” the University of Georgia does not only throughout our state, but around the country – to “commit to GEORGIA”. Let us not be distracted by those who attempt to divide us --- we must be united and stronger than ever before to help move our athletic program forward in the future. That concludes my report. Summary of Treasurer Ryan Nesbit’s Presentation In addition to the operating reserves summary that is customarily reviewed with the Board, additional information about these reserves, as well as endowed funds held and managed by the UGA Foundation for the benefit of the Athletic Association was presented. This presentation covered the endowments that are in place to provide scholarship funds for our student-athletes, endowed funds that provide general support for athletics, and the operating reserve funds. SLIDE 1 - In terms of the major objectives of maintaining adequate operating reserves, first and foremost, an adequate operating reserve is absolutely essential to sound financial planning and fiscal management. In addition, adequate reserves are a very important component of enabling the Athletic Association to stay in compliance with bond-related covenants as well as enabling it to achieve and maintain a Aa3 credit rating from Moody's Investors Service. SLIDE 2 - The most recent balances for the scholarship endowments, the general fund endowment and the operating reserve total just over $140 million. But more importantly, of that $140 million, only about $36.9 million of the operating reserve funds are unrestricted or uncommitted. Best practices suggest that nonprofits should maintain an operating reserve equal to 3 to 6 months of an organizations average recurring expenses with 3 months being the minimum amount of an operating reserve. With about $110 million of operating expenses and recurring interest expense included in the Athletic Association’s FY 2017 budget, this uncommitted balance should be somewhere between $27.5 million and $55 million. While we do believe that we are maintaining a healthy operating reserve, these figures underscore why it is very important for the Athletic Association to remain committed to identifying opportunities for additional revenue growth and capital fundraising because without additional revenue or fundraising, the Athletic Association’s capacity to invest in additional capital projects is limited. This statement is supported by the Credit Opinion that Moody’s issued in September 2016 which described the Athletic Association’s unrestricted liquidity as healthy and a strength that is counterbalancing its relatively high financial leverage.  SLIDE 3 - The first black slice of this summary chart represents the scholarship endowments and shows that this $37.7 million is restricted, by donor intent, to be used for scholarships and provides about $1.2 million a year for scholarships for our student-athletes. The red slice represents the general fund endowment and shows that this fund, which by Board policy is being managed as an endowment, will provide about $1.4 million annually to support the Athletic Association’s annual budget. The larger gray slice represents the $21.2 million that is committed from the current reserve balance to current capital projects. This figure does not include the $56.4 million of reserve and operating funds allocated for facilities projects over the past 10 years. The smaller gray slice represents $10 million from the operating reserve committed to the West End Zone project; this does not include an additional $4.5 million in estimated financing costs associated with the line of credit for this project that will be funded from the operating budget. Because a line of credit is being utilized for the West End Zone project, the amount of the reserve funds currently invested in the UGA Foundation’s long-term investment portfolio will not be reduced to help fund this project.  The final green slice represents the $36.9 million of unrestricted or uncommitted funds that remain available to enable the Athletic Association to: 1. stay compliant with bond-related covenants,  2. maintain a Aa3 credit rating,  3. maintain a standard operating reserve to provide the financial capacity to respond to unforeseen events that may go beyond the $1.7 million of contingency funds included in the FY 2018 budget, and 4. provide support for future capital projects.

Bulldog News

  • With the help of two physical therapists and training equipment, Devon Gales, who suffered a significant neck injury while playing for Southern University against Georgia in the fall of 2015, walked on Thursday.   Gales was injured on a kickoff return collision with former Georgia kicker Marshall Morgan. Since then, Gales has been taken in by the Bulldogs as one of their own, initially led by former coach Mark Richt and continued by Bryant Gantt and the current staff.   Gales has appeared at Georgia football and basketball games during the last year and a half since his injury and had a long stay at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta before being able to return home to Baton Rouge.   He has occasionally posted videos of his progress on Twitter, always keeping a positive attitude and maintaining his goal of walking on his own one day. And in February, the University of Georgia announced a fundraising initiative to help the Gales family build a new house.
  • From UGA Sports Communications ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. ----- A $4.451 million increase in the fiscal year 2018 budget, athletic director’s overview of the athletic program, and a detailed review and explanation of the reserve funds highlighted the annual spring meeting of the University of Georgia Athletic Association Board of Directors Thursday. The total Athletic Association budget for 2018 was approved at $127,590,041. J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics Greg McGarity’s report included an assessment of the overall athletic program. (full transcript of his report is included below). ‘’The responsibility to enhance our strengths and address our weaknesses lands on my desk’’ said McGarity. ‘’I know our program is not reaching its full potential. Our staff spends every day committed to moving our program forward, both collectively and sport by sport, and when we fall short of expectations, we are there to provide support, and when we win, we celebrate alongside each sport.’’ McGarity said the Athletic Association’s goal is for every one of the Bulldog sports to compete in its national championship.   ‘’This year, 16 of our 21 sports did just that,’’ he said. ‘’As with every year, some teams met or exceeded their expectations while some experienced uncharacteristic results. We still have teams competing in their NCAA Championships, so we still have work to do. Eight of our 21 teams have finished among the nation’s Top 10, with men’s and women’s outdoor track and field to be held in Oregon in early June. Both of our teams are projected to finish in the Top 10. I feel confident that we will see marked improvement in numerous sports in the near, if not immediate, future.’’ The 2018 budget marked the first portion of a lengthy report by treasurer Ryan Nesbit, UGA Vice President for Finance and Administration. Nesbit also detailed the Athletic Association reserve funds and outlined spending restrictions. He said the total operating reserve funds amounted to $68.1 million; however, only $36.9 million of that amount are available to support credit ratings, future projects, and maintain a standard operating reserve to provide funding for unforeseen events. (A condensed summation of Nesbit’s report follows below and accompanies the attached slides.) Among the highlights of the many reports came from Faculty Athletics Representative David Shipley, who announced that UGA’s 511 student-athletes posted a best-ever 3.13 grade point average in the recently completed Spring Semester.   Other highlights of the Athletics Board meeting included the following: • A presentation by Executive Associate AD Josh Brooks on the following current facilities construction projects: Phase 2 of Stegeman Coliseum upgrades that include all new seating, center court-hung scoreboard, as well as lighting and sound systems; the resurfacing of Spec Towns Track, scheduled for an Aug. 1 completion; reconstruction of the soccer stadium grandstand at the Jack Turner Soccer/Softball Complex; expansion and renovation of the Boyd Golf Center; upgrading of the restrooms on the 100, 200 and 300 levels at Sanford Stadium; beginning of the West End Zone project at Sanford Stadium. • A presentation by Executive Associate AD Matt Borman on his observations since beginning his position in Development in January of this year, and also on the progress of athletic fundraising efforts over the short and long terms. • A presentation from Shipley, representing the Student Wellness Committee, on the development of UGA’s Career Development program. Less than a year old, this program strives to counsel student-athletes on all aspects of career building and enhancement. • The announcement of the two student-athletes who will serve the 2017-18 year as representatives on the Board: distance runner Jonathan Pelham, a redshirt freshman from LaGrange, and soccer player Summer Burnett, a senior from Makakilo, Hawaii. • The introduction of Dr. Timothy Gray of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences as the newest member of the Athletics Board. Gray replaces Dr. Jennifer Samp as an elected faculty member of the Board. • The announcement of Kessel Stelling, 1978 UGA alumnus and Chairman/CEO of Synovus, will join the Athletics Board in 2017-18, replacing new emeritus member Don Leebern III. • A glowing academic report from Shipley, the text of which follows: Spring semester Grade Point Average (GPA) for all 511 Student-Athletes (SAs) is a best ever at 3.13. It surpassed the previous high of 3.06, representing a significant increase. Over 65 percent of our student-athletes were at B or above; 29.4% were between 3.50 and 3.99; and 24 (4.7% of the total) were at 4.00. This was the eighth consecutive semester and 10th in the last 12 in which the overall student-athlete GPA was above 3.00. Cross Country recorded the highest GPA among the men's teams with 3.43, while the top women’s team was Tennis with a 3.49. All UGA women’s teams had GPA’s above 3.00. The NCAA Academic Progress Rate (APR) for all UGA our teams was solid with Women’s Cross Country, Volleyball and Men’s Tennis having perfect scores of 1000. The APR provides a real-time look at a team’s academic success each semester by tracking the academic progress of each student-athlete on scholarship. The APR accounts for eligibility and retention and provides a measure of each team’s academic performance. 97 student-athletes graduated on May 5. Their graduation speaker was Ernie Johnson, our own 2016 Hartman Award recipient and a former baseball student-athlete at UGA. Full Text from J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics Greg McGarity: May 24, P.M. AD Report Narrative Thank you President Morehead Good morning. This is the seventh annual report I have had the privilege to deliver to members of our Athletic Board. I want to thank each of you, current and past board members, for the time you devote to our athletic program --- whether it’s spreading the word about UGA athletics, serving on a committee, being a sounding board, or lending an ear. People ask me frequently, how can I help? My response --- be “there”, be “present” and tell me what you really think. So I thank all of you for your offers of help and assistance. In my role as Athletic Director, I get to see the outstanding work our staff does on a daily basis to serve our student-athletes and the entire Bulldog Nation. Many positions in our department are very visible. However, the bulk of our work goes on beneath the surface and out of the limelight within departments such as compliance, maintenance, communications, marketing, promotions, student services and business operations. I want to express my appreciation to our entire staff and the scores of others who work hard every day on and off our campus for the betterment of our athletic association. We are truly blessed to have people who really care about the University of Georgia in our department. I have asked two of our senior staff members to make presentations today. Josh Brooks will talk about our facilities and Matt Borman will brief everyone on our Bulldog Club efforts. I’m confident you will find refreshing their insight as new staff members, who have joined, or in Josh’s case rejoined, our program after serving other institutions over the years. We look forward to these presentations. I would like to take a few moments and talk about the overall status of our program as it stands now, and as we look forward.  Much has been written about the status of our program from a competitive standpoint. Our stated goal is the extremely ambitious task of having every one of our sports competing in their national championship. This year, 16 of our 21 sports did just that. As with every year, some teams met or exceeded their expectations, some experienced uncharacteristic results. We still have teams competing in their NCAA Championship, so we still have work to do. Eight of our 21 teams have finished among the nation’s Top 10, with men’s and women’s outdoor track and field to be held in Oregon in early June. Both of our teams are projected to finish in the Top 10. I feel confident that we will see marked improvement in numerous sports in the near, if not immediate, future. Administratively, we continue to be committed to providing the resources necessary to make it happen. And the FY18 budget will reflect those commitments. The responsibility to enhance our strengths and address our weaknesses lands on my desk. I know our program is not reaching its full potential. Our staff spends every day committed to moving our program forward, both collectively and sport by sport, and when we fall short of expectations, we are there to provide support, and when we win, we celebrate alongside each sport. Regardless of the outcome, we remain loyal and dedicated to fully supporting our student-athletes and our coaches.  On the facility front, we have, or will have, invested over $95 million in our facilities over the past seven years. That total includes seven-figure projects at Sanford Stadium, Stegeman Coliseum, Foley Field, the Spec Towns Track, the Jack Turner Soccer Complex and the David Boyd Golf Center—and it doesn’t count the west end zone improvements in Sanford Stadium. That’s a million-dollar – and in most cases multi-million-dollar – investment in the competition facilities for 15 programs. Our board members have approved every one of these expenditures and each of you should feel a great deal of satisfaction about your efforts to make our physical plant exceptional. Believe me when I say that we have more than adequately invested in our TOTAL athletic program. That investment should be applauded.  I agree facilities are a vital part of an athletic program, and our plan of action over the years, and over the coming years, will provide the environment to thrive and compete at the highest levels in each sport. It has become commonplace to refer to facilities from school to school as an “arms race.” The game of comparing one school to another will always be a popular exercise for many. We will do what we think is best on a sport-by-sport basis for our teams in order to achieve all of our objectives on the field, in the classroom and in the community.  At this time, I would like to ask Josh Brooks to come forward and talk about his return to UGA, and his view of our facilities, both presently and in the future. Moving to the world of development, I’m proud to report the Georgia Bulldog Club – which has been the backbone of our fundraising efforts since it was founded decades ago – has set records once again. All of the credit for reaching these remarkable heights is a result of the leadership of our development staff, both past and present, along with 16,000 donors who provide support to our program.  The Magill Society initiative, launched in the Fall of 2015, is a remarkable story in itself. But it is not just the Magill Society alone --- it’s also scholarship endowments, sports-specific educational funds, naming opportunities --- it’s been a great year! And Ryan’s presentation demonstrated how our financial resources are essential to our annual operation. I would like to ask Matt Borman to come on up, and talk about the accomplishments of the Bulldog Club staff and share his thoughts with you at this time. I would like to thank Professor Shipley for earlier reviewing the academic report of our student-athletes for the past semester, and the past year. Ted White and his staff at the Rankin Smith Center are the very best in college athletics and the work they do every day to enrich the lives of our student-athletes is a wonderful story. Those efforts are validated often, most often at the end of each semester and none more so than on May 5th, during our graduation reception in Sanford Stadium prior to Commencement.  This special time is when the life of a student-athlete comes full circle. We saw these youngsters enter our program as wide-eyed teenagers. During orientation, we educate them on what’s ahead, what to look out for, how to prepare. We also let them know we are here to help, to help create an environment that allows them to excel in the classroom, in athletics and in life.  To have parents approach you to on that special day, to hear their appreciation for our staff helping their child in their journey to earn a degree, and to single out a staff member for good deeds done --- well, that’s priceless! In closing, I want to thank the President’s Office --- we are encircled by the persistent support we receive from President Morehead’s staff --- we appreciate your help . We are constantly amazed and appreciative of the depth, passion and concern our President affords the University of Georgia community on a daily basis. You are laser-focused on making UGA better every day, and that rubs off on all of us. Thanks for leading our school into the future --- we are in good hands. Our institution is the very birthplace of public higher education in our country. We have a legacy unlike any other. We have a college town unlike any other. So many have “committed to the G” --- and we are now asking everyone who believes in all of the “good” the University of Georgia does not only throughout our state, but around the country – to “commit to GEORGIA”. Let us not be distracted by those who attempt to divide us --- we must be united and stronger than ever before to help move our athletic program forward in the future. That concludes my report. Summary of Treasurer Ryan Nesbit’s Presentation In addition to the operating reserves summary that is customarily reviewed with the Board, additional information about these reserves, as well as endowed funds held and managed by the UGA Foundation for the benefit of the Athletic Association was presented. This presentation covered the endowments that are in place to provide scholarship funds for our student-athletes, endowed funds that provide general support for athletics, and the operating reserve funds. SLIDE 1 - In terms of the major objectives of maintaining adequate operating reserves, first and foremost, an adequate operating reserve is absolutely essential to sound financial planning and fiscal management. In addition, adequate reserves are a very important component of enabling the Athletic Association to stay in compliance with bond-related covenants as well as enabling it to achieve and maintain a Aa3 credit rating from Moody's Investors Service. SLIDE 2 - The most recent balances for the scholarship endowments, the general fund endowment and the operating reserve total just over $140 million. But more importantly, of that $140 million, only about $36.9 million of the operating reserve funds are unrestricted or uncommitted. Best practices suggest that nonprofits should maintain an operating reserve equal to 3 to 6 months of an organizations average recurring expenses with 3 months being the minimum amount of an operating reserve. With about $110 million of operating expenses and recurring interest expense included in the Athletic Association’s FY 2017 budget, this uncommitted balance should be somewhere between $27.5 million and $55 million. While we do believe that we are maintaining a healthy operating reserve, these figures underscore why it is very important for the Athletic Association to remain committed to identifying opportunities for additional revenue growth and capital fundraising because without additional revenue or fundraising, the Athletic Association’s capacity to invest in additional capital projects is limited. This statement is supported by the Credit Opinion that Moody’s issued in September 2016 which described the Athletic Association’s unrestricted liquidity as healthy and a strength that is counterbalancing its relatively high financial leverage.  SLIDE 3 - The first black slice of this summary chart represents the scholarship endowments and shows that this $37.7 million is restricted, by donor intent, to be used for scholarships and provides about $1.2 million a year for scholarships for our student-athletes. The red slice represents the general fund endowment and shows that this fund, which by Board policy is being managed as an endowment, will provide about $1.4 million annually to support the Athletic Association’s annual budget. The larger gray slice represents the $21.2 million that is committed from the current reserve balance to current capital projects. This figure does not include the $56.4 million of reserve and operating funds allocated for facilities projects over the past 10 years. The smaller gray slice represents $10 million from the operating reserve committed to the West End Zone project; this does not include an additional $4.5 million in estimated financing costs associated with the line of credit for this project that will be funded from the operating budget. Because a line of credit is being utilized for the West End Zone project, the amount of the reserve funds currently invested in the UGA Foundation’s long-term investment portfolio will not be reduced to help fund this project.  The final green slice represents the $36.9 million of unrestricted or uncommitted funds that remain available to enable the Athletic Association to: 1. stay compliant with bond-related covenants,  2. maintain a Aa3 credit rating,  3. maintain a standard operating reserve to provide the financial capacity to respond to unforeseen events that may go beyond the $1.7 million of contingency funds included in the FY 2018 budget, and 4. provide support for future capital projects.
  • Athens, GA – While kickoff is still 100 days away, you no longer have to wait to find out what time UGA and Appalachian State will kick off in Sanford Stadium to start the 2017 college football season in Athens on September 2nd.    6:15 p.m., meaning the game will begin under the sun, but should be completely under the lights by the start of the second half. The time is a bit of a change from the usual, and almost expected noon kickoff the Bulldogs are used to being assigned for early-season home games against non-power five opponents.    The game will be aired on ESPN.    Georgia has played Appalachian State one time in its history, beating the Mountaineers 45-6 on Homecoming in 2013. Week two sees the Bulldogs traveling to Notre Dame, also a night game, kicking off at 7:30 p.m. on NBC.     
  • The latest season of Georgia Bulldog baseball comes to a close: the Diamond Dogs lost 3-0 to Mississippi State in Wednesday’s rain-delayed opening round game of the Southeastern Conference baseball tournament in Hoover Alabama.  Sophomore Konnor Pilkinton carried a shutout to the ninth to lead 19th-ranked Mississippi State to the win over Georgia at the SEC Tournament Wednesday at the Hoover Met. MSU junior first baseman Brent Rooker, the SEC Player of the Year, provided a 2-0 lead when he smashed his league-leading 21st home run in the first inning off junior Chase Adkins. In the third, State loaded the bases with one out and only managed a sacrifice fly from Hunter Vansau to make it 3-0. State improves to 35-22 while Pilkington is now 7-5.   Georgia missed out on a scoring opportunity in the second inning, putting runners at the corners with nobody out after Mitchell Webb reached with a leadoff walk and LJ Talley lined a single to right field. However, Pilkington retired the next three Bulldogs to maintain their edge. Going to the ninth, Georgia had hits from Talley, freshman shortstop Cam Shepherd in the first inning and freshman catcher Austin Biggar in the eighth frame. Adkins saw his record drop to 6-7, allowing three runs on seven hits. Georgia’s bullpen of Drew Moody, Kevin Smith and Zac Kristofak combined to provide 4.1 innings of scoreless relief.   In the ninth, Georgia looked to rally as Shepherd collected his second hit to give him his team-best 21st multiple-hit game of the year and then Curry followed with a single. State turned to left-hander Riley Self. He got McGovern to bounce into a double play and then retired Webb to preserve the shutout for his fifth save.   Two weeks ago in Athens, Georgia claimed the regular season series over then sixth-ranked MSU two games to one. In that series, Pilkington and MSU won the opener 9-3 as he tossed eight scoreless innings, allowing just four hits with four walks and seven strikeouts.   The Bulldogs end the season with a record of 25-32.   Dawg Tracks *Nine Bulldogs played in the SEC Tournament for the first time in their career including four freshmen starting position players. *Freshman Cam Shepherd registered his team-leading 73rd hit with a single in the first, and it extended his hitting streak to five games. Also, he played flawless defense with four putouts and four assists. *Junior Will Campbell saw his first action in more than a month (23 games) as he pinch-hit in the fifth inning and played right field for the remainder of the game. *Georgia is now 28-43 all-time in SEC Tournament games after making its 23rd appearance. The Bulldogs are 4-9 against MSU at the SEC Tournament.   Coach’s Corner: Ike Cousins Head Baseball Coach Scott Stricklin “Konnor Pilkington was the difference in this game, that’s twice in the past two weeks that he’s shut us out for eight innings. We had our chance early in the game with two on and nobody out and he pitched out of trouble. I thought we pitched out of trouble a few times too. Still, we kept fighting and had a chance in the ninth with the tying run at the plate. I thought our kids battled down the stretch to get us to the SEC Tournament. It’s tough in this league and we won our last three SEC series against three really good teams.” 
  • ATHENS — All along, even after Yante Maten declared for the NBA draft last month, the expectation has been that the UGA basketball star would ultimately be back for his senior season. Now it’s official: Maten will do just that. Maten announced that he is withdrawing his name from the draft, two days before the NCAA deadline to do so. While Maten tested the waters, and participated in workouts with at least two NBA teams, he retained his college eligibility by not signing with an agent. This is obviously still great news for Georgia, which will thus return one of the SEC’s top players last season. Maten, a 6-foot-8 forward from Pontiac, Mich., was first team All-SEC by the coaches last season and second-team All-SEC by the AP. He averaged 18.6 points and 6.8 rebounds per game, while missing four games and almost all of a loss to Kentucky with a sprained knee. Georgia, which was a disappointing 19-14 last season, now projects to return nine of its top 10 scorers. The exception is a rather major one: J.J. Frazier, the consensus first-team All-SEC point guard. But with Maten back, and highly-rated recruit Rayshaun Hammonds, a wing player, the Bulldogs have a potentially strong nucleus. Sophomore Tyree Crump and junior Turtle Jackson are expected to divide up Frazier’s minutes at point guard. Hammonds should compete for a starting spot at small forward, with Maten’s return meaning he and junior Derek Ogbeide man the two post spots. (Although Maten could see more time on the wing himself.) The backcourt and small forward positions will be interesting to watch, with Hammonds joining senior Juwan Parker, who started most of last year, as well as sophomore Jordan Harris, Crump, Jackson, junior E’Torrion Wilridge. Two other incoming freshmen, guard Teshaun Hightower and forward Nicolas Claxton, should also compete for minutes on the perimeter. And incoming freshman Isaac Kante joins junior Mike Edwards as depth in the post. It was set to be a deep and balanced team, with or without Mante. But now Mante’s return gives it some returning star power.