ALBANY, GA (WALB) - The state's dismal financial situation isn't getting any better. State revenue figures released today show collections dropped 16% in September. If that trend continues, already strapped state departments could have to find other ways to cut spending.
As the economy continues to struggle, Georgians continue to hold on to their money. Sales tax collections were way down again last month. But State Representative Winfred Dukes says another major problem is tax breaks Georgia gives to many special interest groups.
Revenue collections dropped $260 million from last September. Dukes understands that income tax collections are low because so many people don't have jobs. He doesn't understand why the government gives big breaks to big industries.
"We're exempting more people from taxes so revenues aren't coming in," Dukes said.
Dukes says those exemptions resulted in teacher furloughs this year. He says education must be the state's top spending priority.
"You can't create wealth and not educate your children," Dukes said.
Economist Aaron Johnson agrees that in order to turn Georgia's economy around, the state must focus on improving education. He doesn't think revenue collections will improve drastically any time soon.
Economists say Georgia could see small improvements in state revenue in the next year, but it will be a slow process.
Georgia's unemployment rate remains above ten percent. Economists don't expect revenue to improve much until that number goes down.