Time winds down for state lawmakers - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Time winds down for state lawmakers

April 6, 2003

Pebble City- Georgia lawmakers have been in session for at least 30 days and they still have a lot of work to do. The house appropriations committee did agree on a midyear budget, but even that had its problems.

"We're still 128 million dollars short," says chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, Representative Richard Royal.

Though the House has made some headway on the budget it still must go before the full chamber. On top of that, Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee Representative Richard Royal says the state's revenue calculations could also be off.

"We're being told that there's a four-hundred million dollar shortfall in revenue and our budget analysts are telling us it's closer to eight hundred million dollars. So, this could get very severe before the budget process is over, and it could show up in very deep red ink for the 2005 budget year," exclaims Royal.

Still he says Georgia is in better fiscal shape than other states around us. But in addition to having to crunch numbers for the budget, lawmakers only have until Tuesday to pass new bills which include education reform and the state flag.

"I've been in the legislature for twenty years and I've never experienced this type of work going on, and we are behind and its slow but I think the major pieces of legislation that really deserve consideration will be done," adds Royal.

A budget almost 130 million dollars from balancing, plus a list of important pieces of legislation that have yet to be passed, equals a couple of very long days for state lawmakers.

Royal says because the governor's proposed 46-cent increase on tobacco tax failed to meet approval of so many lawmakers, the House is considering a 17-cent per pack increase which could bring in the $128 million the state needs to balance the budget.

Posted at 5:05 PM by elaine.armstrong@walb.com

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