Perdue aims to cut $1.6 billion

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ATLANTA --- A plan by Gov. Sonny Perdue to defer $1.6 billion in spending should avert the need for a special legislative session to address the state's deepening budget crisis, lawmakers and Mr. Perdue's office said Friday.

Mr. Perdue discussed the plan with lawmakers Friday afternoon, as speculation grew that he might call the General Assembly back into session to deal with a deficit that observers say could climb as high as $2 billion if revenues continue to slump.

"The plan laid out today would be able to get there without doing that," said Perdue press secretary Bert Brantley.

Under the blueprint, Mr. Perdue would withhold 6 percent of most agencies' budgets, 5 percent of Medicaid funding and 2 percent of funding for local schools. The move will affect spending for the fiscal year that began July 1.

The reduction in education funding will mostly eliminate an increase lawmakers approved during the legislative session that ended in April.

Mr. Perdue also would hold off on sending Homeowners Tax Relief Grant funding to local governments, though his office said cities and counties would have to decide whether to provide the credit on property tax bills.

Raises for all non-education state employees, set to take effect Jan. 1, also would be deferred.

He will order state agencies to come up with three sets of budget recommendations for lawmakers to consider when they return in January: one cutting spending by 6 percent, another by 8 percent and a third by 10 percent.

The plan accounts for a drop in state revenues of almost 1 percent from the fiscal year that ended June 30, Mr. Brantley said.

House Appropriations Chairman Ben Harbin, R-Evans, said the plan will likely end talk of a special session, at least for now.

"I think overall the governor has done the best job he could do considering the situation we're in," Mr. Harbin said.

Observers almost universally agree the state will not meet its budget for the fiscal year. To do that, tax receipts would have to rise by 8.4 percent, said Alan Essig, the executive director of the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, a think tank that favors more spending on social services.

"I don't think you see any economist saying we're going to come even close to that," he said.

Reach Brandon Larrabee at (678) 977-3709 or

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i.b.e.w..electric 08/02/08 - 05:11 am
wonder if good ol sonny has

wonder if good ol sonny has cut his pay any

jamesnewsome 08/02/08 - 05:29 am
Once again the governor has

Once again the governor has found a way to further cut funding for public education while continuing to give pay increases to teachers. This scenario has played out every year Purdue has been in office. Unfortunately, the burden will continue to fall on local taxpayers as school boards are forced to raise local property taxes in order to balance their budgets. Despite his claims to the contrary, this governor is no friend to public education, nor property owners.

nextstep 08/02/08 - 09:29 am
jamesnewsome If think you

jamesnewsome If think you said a mouth full! Wait until next year and see how deep the cuts will go. Education will be at the top of the list! Remember people when they cut at the state level thet tax burden will shift to the local government. The rich get richer and the middle income people will foot the bill as we always have. The poor will get poorer!

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