September 10, 2019 11:22 PM
In documents obtained by the AJC, hundreds of jobs and state programs will be on the chopping block as the Kemp administration puts together a state budget that seeks to reduce the budget by 4% in Fiscal Year 2020 and by 6% in Fiscal Year 2021.
The cuts prepare the state for an economic recession as well as funding Governor Brian Kemp’s promise of increasing teacher pay in Georgia. Recession fears are real (although, most economic indicators are still positive) due to the uncertainty about a peaceful end to the trade war with China. Plus, it’s expected that the state will announce a drop in tax collections this August from August 2018 by 2.8%.
Although there will be healthy reduction in spending, not everything will be sliced and diced:
Not everything will be cut equally across state government. Some massive enrollment-driven programs — such as K-12 schools, universities and Medicaid, the health care program for the poor and disabled — are exempt.
In all, only about 23% of the state-funded portion of the budget was not exempted. Agencies on the hook for cuts include the departments of Agriculture, Corrections, Driver Services, Public Health, public defenders, the Georgia State Patrol, the GBI, most of the Department of Natural Resources, and the administration of K-12 schools and colleges.
Of those programs being affected, rural programs ran by member institutions of the University System of Georgia are in danger of being cut according to the Georgia Recorder:
Core teaching programs that make up the bulk of university classes and activities in Georgia are exempt from the cuts. But the programs attached to the university system that are targeted are particularly popular in rural parts of the state. Those include a combined $4.7 million cut from the University of Georgia’s agricultural experiment stations, three research centers that teach farming techniques and management in Athens, Griffin and Tifton. The school’s cooperative extension service, which runs agricultural and 4-H programs, is penciled in for a cut of $4.4 million.
The Georgia Public Library service would lose $4 million if the new spending plan is approved. Hospital and clinical services at Augusta University’s Medical Center of Georgia are in line for a $3.2 million reduction from the budget that took effect July 1.
The Georgia House and Senate will have budget hearings later this month.