State budget troubles increase


It is hard to believe that it has been more than seven months since the Georgia General Assembly wrapped up the 2009 session. With the 2010 session right around the corner, we thought it would be a good time to provide an update on our state’s budget and economic picture.

As we reported back in April, the General Assembly adopted a balanced $18.6 billion FY 2010 budget (which runs from July 2009-June 2010) after trimming nearly $3 billion out of the budget due to rapidly decreasing state revenues.

It bears repeating that this was accomplished without raising taxes, a path many other states have followed to balance their budgets.

Every year the budget is set based on the state economists’ best estimate of what the next year’s state revenues. Unfortunately, due to the historic nature of the economic downturn, it became apparent this summer that the revenue picture was significantly worse than the FY 10 budget anticipated and that action would be necessary before we came back into session in January.

To help illustrate that point, state revenues for the first quarter of FY 2010 (July-September) were 14.2 percent below the same quarter in FY 2009, below the stabilization the state economists had hoped for. October numbers were just released this week and revenue for this October are more than 17 percent less than last October.

Given the direction of the budget, Governor Perdue had two options: either call the legislature in for a special session or use his own executive authority to make reductions in department spending.

Gov. Perdue elected the latter by revising the FY 10 revenue estimate and reducing state spending by approximately 5 percent. This was a needed step to keep the budget balanced.

We are a state that lives within its means and thankfully does not engage in the irresponsible deficit spending practices of the federal government. That requires sacrifice and making tough choices, and based on the current revenue trend, additional reductions will be necessary in the amended FY 2010 budget when the legislature reconvenes in January.

This upcoming session will certainly be challenging from a budget perspective. However, we will continue to work to protect the most basic, needed services valued by Georgians.

To add a positive note to some otherwise negative budget news, we recently learned that Georgia’s AAA bond rating was again reaffirmed. This will save Georgia millions of dollars in debt service payments due to the lower interest rates afforded by this bond rating.

Georgia is one of only seven states with this highest bond rating. This is tangible evidence that supports the notion that we must continue down the path of making the responsible, difficult budgetary decisions to ensure our state remains fiscally sound and on solid footing going forward.

To get a sense for the alternative, you need only look to California to see a state government where their leaders have taken the path of least resistance by trying to be everything to every person, rather than making the tough choices.

This has led their state to the brink of bankruptcy and reduced their credit to virtual junk bond status. For our part, we can assure you that is not a path we will follow.

Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions or if either of our offices may be of service. In January when the legislative session convenes, we hope to hear from constituents often as the legislature debates issues of importance to the members of this community.

[This column was provided by Ga. Senator Ronnie Chance (R-Tyrone) and Ga. Representative Matt Ramsey (R-Peachtree City).]

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Submitted by Bonkers on Sun, 11/15/2009 - 3:50pm.

I wonder how Georgia would operate differently than the politicians indicate above if Georgia actually paid all of their bills and obligations?

They have no money for the unemployed and are taking federal funds for that--so we will pay taxes to Feds instead of GA.

They have insufficient water resources for the state---a critical mistake--no industry will come here significantly. Building will slow. Bonds are needed for that.

Schools are suffering and neither state or county funds are sufficient to remedy that. It is either do with less or find a way there.

GA doesn't want Tarp money, they say, but take and ask for all they can get.

Georgia has the worst banks in the country. No state regulation and no federal regulation.

Parks are being closed and mismanaged.

Atlanta has been allowed to deteriorate horribly. Need to take it over as did Florida for Miami once.

We are still a hick state with hick representatives and voters who don't want improvements.

Cyclist's picture
Submitted by Cyclist on Sun, 11/15/2009 - 4:40pm.

Heck, he has an answer for everything.

Caution - The Surgeon General has determined that constant blogging is an addiction that can cause a sedentary life style.

Submitted by Citizen_Steve on Sun, 11/15/2009 - 7:13pm.

I doubt Bonkers would rip us off for $100,000 like Sonny Perdue did. Perdue is nothing but a lying, cheating sleazeball. I know we didn't have any other great candidates but I vote for honesty and virtue over political party, and I didn't vote for Sonny.

Read about it here, I haven't studied up on Sunny, but I bet he's taken us for way more than the 100k.

hutch866's picture
Submitted by hutch866 on Sun, 11/15/2009 - 4:14pm.

You can always leave, we have three interstates that leave Georgia, and numerous airlines, buses, and even a train I believe. As we said in my service "there ain't no anchor on your ass".

I yam what I yam....Popeye

Submitted by Bonkers on Sun, 11/15/2009 - 4:27pm.

That might improve my worries but not Georgia's!

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