All of the state except the northwest corner is experiencing moderate to severe drought conditions. The northwest corner has mild drought conditions. As of now, the northeast, west central and southern third of the state have severe drought conditions, based on the Palmer Drought Severity Index. The remainder of the state has moderate drought conditions. Showers this week will bring some short-term relief, but most of Georgia is still invarying degrees of drought conditions.Entire state dry Soil moisture and crop condition The weather outlook through May doesn’t look promising. It has taken a year for the present conditions to develop. It’s going to take several days of rain to make a significant dent in the drought. The dry conditions started in May 1998 and first became critical last summer. Normally, soil moisture is recharged during the winter. But that didn’t happen last winter. In October through March, total precipitation was in the bottom 15th percentile for the northeast and southern two-thirds of the state. With soil moisture reserves extremely low, early crop and pasture growth is being hindered. Dry soils are inhibiting proper germination of cotton in some areas of the state. Outlook not promising County Extension Service agents rated 83 percent of the state’s topsoil moisture as short or very short. That’s up 16 points from last week, said Bob Bass, state statistician with the Georgia Agricultural Statistics Service. Crop conditions vary considerably. The wheat crop was rated at 30 percent poor to very poor, compared to 13 percent last week. But with 21 percent of the onion harvested, 87 percent of the crop rated fair, good or excellent, Bass said.
Vermonters interested in the workings of their state government now have a powerful new tool: www.vttransparency.org(link is external). The new website, a joint venture of Ethan Allen Institute of Kirby and Public Assets Institute of Montpelier, has a wealth of information about state revenues and spending, both current and historical.It allows viewers to search state payments to vendors and compensation of state employees. It offers links to federal stimulus spending, economic development credits, rainy day funds, school district spending and outcomes, and municipal web pages.While the focus of the website is primarily fiscal information, it also includes convenient links to other information about state and local government. There is a guide to tracking roll call votes of state legislators, for example, and users can find out how to track the progress of bills on the Legislature’s web site. There is also a guide to Vermont’s education finance laws (Act 60 and Act 68) and links to state statues, summaries of new legislation and the Vermont Constitution.“Vermont Transparency is an excellent starting point for any citizen or group interested in the working of government,” said John McClaughry, president and founder of Ethan Allen Institute.“The information on our website is all public data, but it is often difficult to find and not always easy to use,” said Jack Hoffman, senior analyst of Public Assets Institute and the project director. “Our goal is to present information in ways that give average Vermonters a better understanding of how the state raises and spends money and the fiscal policies that guide those decisions.”Ethan Allen Institute and the Public Assets Institute often take opposing positions on matter of public policy. However, they both agree that good data and solid information are the foundation of sound public policy.“Democracy depends on an informed citizenry that understands how its state and local governments work,” McClaughry said.Vermont Transparency is a work in progress. More than 20 years of state budget information is available, which includes total appropriations as well as appropriations by individual state fund. Historical revenue data also are available. More information and links will be added as users make suggestions, and as state government makes more useful data available.The Ethan Allen Institute, founded in 1993, is a nonprofit educational organization that advocates for individual liberty, private property, competitive free enterprise, and frugal, responsible and limited government.The Public Assets Institute, founded in 2003, supports democracy by helping Vermonters understand the role public policies and public structures play in providing prosperity for all.For more information, contact:Jack HoffmanPublic Assets Institute(802) firstname.lastname@example.org(link sends e-mail)John McClaughryEthan Allen Institute(802) email@example.com(link sends e-mail)
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