GA faces budget deficit and more cuts - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

GA faces budget deficit and more cuts

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ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

The 2013 Georgia General Assembly session convenes on Monday.

Lawmakers are gearing up to make some tough budget choices.

Despite news today that Georgia tax collections jumped 10 percent last month the state still faces a big budget deficit and more cuts.

Lawmakers will also face pressure to enact tough new ethics rules for themselves.

Starting next week, the Georgia General Assembly will convene for 2013 and the only bill required by law to be passed is a balanced budget, a budget that has a $700,000,000 shortfall.

Now Governor Nathan Deal is calling for department cuts to help make up for that loss.

"The governor has asked for a 3% decrease to all department and agencies with the exception of public education," said Representative Ed Rynders.

Those cuts will be in vital areas such as public safety and mental health.

District 150 Representative Winfred Dukes says cuts to mental health could be risky.

"When you start talking about mental health and those services that we really need to provide particularly in the climate that we live in, it definitely will cause some troubles," said Dukes.

Another hot topic is ethics reform.

Wednesday, special Senate committee discussed proposed rules including a $100 cap on gifts lobbyists can give lawmakers.

Ed Rynders says the work of lobbyists can lead to economic development.  He agrees their gifts should be listed publically online, but he's not sure about that cap.

"There's no doubt in my mind if a Walmart distribution center wanted to come to Southwest Georgia and they said Ed come over to Amelia Island and bring your wife, let's have dinner and play a round of golf and talk about the availability in Southwest Georgia, my constituents would say go and hurry. They would expect that to be how business is done," said Rynders.

Both parties expect to do what's best for the people and have Georgia economy back on track.

"We're really going to see what can we do as a state to increase our revenue and that is we're going to have to put people back to work and we're going to have to become more profitable," said Dukes.

Each representative is optimistic this session will be productive.

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