Speaker of the Georgia House David Ralston’s office issued a press release today, which can be seen in full below, stating that they will begin working on Gov. Brian Kemp’s request for cuts in the 2020 and 2021 state budgets.
Ralston states in the press release: “Looking for cuts in an already lean-state budget will not be an easy task and will require some difficult decisions regarding service delivery and personnel levels in each state agency.”
Ralston’s statement undergirds my previous statements that “The Governor will have a monumental task of increasing efficiency in certain areas while seeking a budget reduction. Agencies in the fields of mental health care, law enforcement, and health care and specific offices, such as DFCS and the Insurance Commissioner’s office, are already spread mighty thin with such a large population and geographical area and the myriad of responsibilities under the purview of each.”
I sincerely hope that the Governor’s office, the House, and ultimately the Senate, will be careful not to cut areas that have already been sliced to the bone. I also hope that they will take careful consideration of our growing population and the increased areas of need that will follow.
Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) today announced that the Georgia House of Representatives will begin work this fall to prepare the Amended Fiscal Year 2020 and the Fiscal Year 2021 state budgets. Speaker Ralston has named a new Special Committee on Economic Growth, which will solicit input on potential new industries in the State of Georgia. Speaker Ralston has also directed the House Appropriations Committee to begin meeting to ensure adequate time and deliberation for the 2020 legislative session budgeting process.
“Thankfully, we have managed Georgia’s finances conservatively over the last decade and that has paid dividends in terms of a AAA-bond rating, healthy budget reserve fund and a strong economy,” said Speaker Ralston. “Adjusted for inflation, Georgians still pay less per capita to operate state government than they did before the recession hit in 2007. What’s more, we’ve invested in rewarding teachers and law enforcement officers, fully funding public education and improving our transportation and mobility infrastructure while also cutting the state’s income tax rate.
“However, we are not content to rest on our laurels, and I appreciate Governor Kemp’s concerns about the possibility of slowing economic growth,” continued Speaker Ralston. “As such, the House will begin work this fall on next year’s budget process.”
Speaker Ralston announced a Special Committee on Economic Growth which will look at industries which may wish to enter the State of Georgia and would require legislation creating a new regulatory framework. State revenue collected from such new industries could be used to fund specific programs like education, healthcare or infrastructure needs.
“In taking a holistic view of our state’s finances, we would be remiss if we did not explore options for new sources of revenue to continue funding priorities while keeping the tax burden on Georgians as low as possible,” said Speaker Ralston. “I know this committee will earnestly investigate potential new industries and listen to feedback throughout the state on what actions should or should not be taken to grow Georgia’s economy.”
The Special Committee on Economic Growth will be led by three House chairmen who will serve as co-chairs of the special committee: Rep. Brett Harrell (R-Snellville), Chairman of the Ways & Means Committee; Rep. Alan Powell (R-Hartwell), Chairman of the Regulated Industries Committee; and Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Savannah), Chairman of the Economic Development & Tourism Committee. The other members of the special committee appointed by the Speaker are:
· Rep. Shaw Blackmon (R-Bonaire)
· Rep. J. Collins (R-Villa Rica)
· Rep. Ginny Ehrhart (R-Marietta)
· Rep. Matthew Gambill (R-Cartersville)
· Rep. Penny Houston (R-Nashville)
· Rep. Chuck Martin (R-Alpharetta)
· Rep. Miriam Paris (D-Macon)
· Rep. Steven Sainz (R-Woodbine)
· Rep. Michael Smith (D-Marietta)
· Rep. Dale Washburn (R-Macon)
· Rep. Al Williams (D-Midway)
· Rep. Rick Williams (R-Milledgeville)
Speaker Ralston has also directed House Appropriations Chairman Terry England (R-Auburn) and his subcommittee chairmen to begin holding committee meetings this fall to allow adequate time to prepare the AFY 2020 and FY 2021 state budgets.
“Looking for cuts in an already lean-state budget will not be an easy task and will require some difficult decisions regarding service delivery and personnel levels in each state agency,” said Speaker Ralston. “I know that our Appropriations Committee members will work closely with their counterparts in the Senate, state agency heads, the Governor’s Office of Planning & Budget and the Governor’s staff to ensure thorough, thoughtful discussion of the challenges and opportunities ahead.”