State Legislature comes to order -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

State Legislature comes to order

By Dal Cannady

January 12, 2009

ATLANTA, GA (WTOC) - How will Georgia lawmakers spend your tax dollars and work out of the current economic crisis? That is the biggest question as they begin their work in Atlanta.

So far so good. Everyone knows they have tough choices as almost everyone program or agency will lose funding -- but who and how much could be where the fireworks start.

Children and grandchildren filled both chambers for the ceremonial oath of office.

But the rest of the General Assembly session may not be suitable for all ages as lawmakers try to fix an ugly recession.

"We have a budget of $21 billion and we've got a deficit of $2 billion. So that's 10 percent," said Republican Sen. Eric Johnson of Savannah.

That means taking money from state agencies midway through this budget before they focus on next year.

"The further you get into a budget, the harder it is because agencies have spent half their money," said Republican Sen. Jack Hill, who is the Appropriations Chairman.

They could call on a one billion dollar reserve fund to lessen cuts to education, transportation and health care. But no one has a crystal ball to know when things will get better.

Another unknown factor is if the federal government will offer a economic bailout to states.

Columbus Democrat  Representative Calvin Smyre has lobbied President-elect Obama's economic team.

"I think it is highly possible there will be an economic stimulus package. I'm gonna meet with the Governor, Lt. Governor and Speaker to make sure we have some kind of game plan."

He thinks that relief could require Democrats and Republicans to work together like never before. House Democrats did not oppose Speaker Glenn Richardson's reelection on Monday. But some worry the good will honeymoon could end quickly.

"There's an old saying that the smaller the pie, the quicker table manners deteriorate," said Johnson.

  the governor will address the general assembly later this week.  he'll have some revenue figures that may give lawmakers some ideas on whether things will get better or worse.  but with such a deficit, all of us will see or feel the cuts in one way or another.


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