Barnes draws fire with plan to spend tobacco money
Gov. Roy Barnes defended his plan to spend one-third of the state's $4.8 billion tobacco settlement on rural economic development rather than using it all on health care, contending Wednesday that job growth promotes public health.
"You have to understand that Georgia is a tobacco-producing state, and a large part of rural Georgia is going to be adversely affected," Barnes said. "I know of nothing that is more directly connected with health than the ability to be employed and to be able to eat. . . . I don't consider that to be any kind of a change from what I've said all along." But as Barnes justified his new spending proposal, anti-tobacco activists and some Republican legislators reacted with dismay, saying the plan represented an inappropriate use of the tobacco settlement, as well as a reversal of Barnes' promises to dedicate the money to health care.