Local
5:14 pm
Tue March 26, 2013

Georgia Policy Analyst Says State Budget Needs Improvement

Georgia’s House and Senate are working to reach an agreement over the state budget by Thursday. The Georgia Budget and Policy Institute says so far both chambers have made improvements to the budget proposed by Governor Deal , but the plans still fall short of what’s needed to move the state forward.

Georgia Budget and Policy Institute Executive Director Alan Essig says lawmakers have done a good job of minimizing the cuts in the parameters that are available to them.

“They can’t spend any more money than the governor allocates.”

But he says after years of budget reductions, the plans are not enough.

“The problem is the general assembly is just looking at the budget side and is not doing anything on the tax side.”

Essig is especially concerned about cuts that have been made in the past five years to K-12 and higher education.

The dome of the Georgia State Capitol.
Legislators are working to reach an agreement over the state budget by Thursday.
Credit Connor.carey / Wikimedia Commons [CC-BY-SA-3.0]

“The long-term impacts of these continued cuts to K-12 system, of the continued cuts to the higher education system, I’m afraid it’s going to have a long-term impact on the economic health of the state if we don’t change the direction.”

Essig says it’s likely too late to make significant changes for the upcoming budget year.

But he says in the future, lawmakers can restore cuts to state programs and fully fund the K-12 and higher education funding formulas by getting rid of credits and exemptions in the state’s income tax, raising the tobacco tax and taxing services that are not currently taxed.