More spending cuts coming in legislative session

The Georgia General Assembly begins the 2013 Legislative Session a week from today, Governor Nathan Deal releases his budget in ten days, and spending cuts are already front and center in expectations of each.

A report from the Atlanta Journal Constitution looks forward to a budget from the governor “that funds the basics, includes another round of spending cuts and probably not a lot else.”

Deal has already ordered state agencies to find $553 million in cuts for both the previous and upcoming years.

The pattern of spending cuts, funding the essentials and not much else continues the trend started during the onset of the Great Recession for Georgia. Fiscal year 2013’s budget was $19.3 billion, some $2 billion below 2008 levels.

The AJC’s report notes that revenue collections in fiscal year 2013 “are below the 5 percent growth rate needed to fund the budget.”

All of this comes amid ever-expanding Medicaid, K-12 and college rosters in the Peach State. The polarizing hospital ‘bed tax’ will likely take front and center in the Medicaid debate, while it’s expected that colleges will again raise tuition or fees to offset cuts.

However, K-12 was not included in Deal’s $553 million in cuts order. He’s “committed to put extra money into the state’s pre-kindergarten program to fully restore the program back to 180 days per year.”

Another $50 million in state funds towards the Port of Savannah has also been promised inclusion in the governor’s budget

-Brandon Howell