Traditionally, legislators take the week following Opening Day for the House and Senate appropriations committees to meet jointly to hear from the heads of the largest agencies about needs for the coming fiscal year. The parade of 28 witnesses begins Tuesday with Gov. Nathan Deal and his economist Kenneth Heaghney.
The first day focuses on students with testimony on the HOPE Scholarship, Pre-K Program, K-12 education, technical colleges and the University System of Georgia. Wednesday’s lineup includes the courts, law enforcement, transportation, ports and natural resources agencies. Social services agencies wind up the hearings Thursday.
Deal’s budget proposal includes a 3 percent reduction in every agency other than K-12 education. He’s predicting just 4.6 percent growth in tax collections for the fiscal year that begins July 1, leading to another lean budget.
“There’ll be some crying and gnashing of teeth,” predicted House Appropriations Chairman Terry England, R-Auburn.
England and his Senate counterpart, Sen. Jack Hill, R-Reidsville, will share the gavel in presiding over the week’s hearings.
For the two-thirds of legislators who aren’t on the two committees, some of the time will be spent moving into their offices. The 82 freshmen didn’t even know where they would be, their phone numbers or mailing address when they recessed Thursday.
Freshman Rep. Regina Quick, R-Athens, joked, “I’m the true Lincoln representative for now, with no office.”
Lawmakers in Abraham Lincoln’s day had no offices and usually worked out of the boarding-house rooms they lived in while away from home.