Sunday, January 31, 2010

weekly for 1-21-2010

Under the Gold Dome

State Representative John Lunsford's

Weekly Capitol Update     

 January 21, 2010

Many legislators filled the Capitol this week although we were not in session.  Our agenda consisted of Joint Appropriations Committee hearings.  During these joint hearings, each state agency presents their budget to both the Senators and Representatives of the Georgia General Assembly.  Now that the agencies have presented their budgets, the House and Senate Appropriation Subcommittees will individually resume working on their version of budget, to be approved by each chamber, and the differences will be worked out later in the session with the Appropriations Conference Committee.  On Monday, January 25th, all legislators from across the state will join together at our State Capitol as we begin our 5th legislative session day. 

Last Friday, Governor Perdue released his amended budget proposal for 2010 and for Fiscal Year 2011.  The Fiscal Year 2010 Amended Budget figure released was reduced to $17.4 billion.  This includes between an eight and nine percent cut on most state agencies.  Three additional furlough days for all state employees has been requested by the Governor in the amended recommendations.  An option for the individual school boards across the state is the choice to offset the furloughs by either using surpluses or cutting the budget in other areas. The Fiscal Year 2011 estimated revenue figure is projected at $18.2 billion.  The “Rainy Day Fund” still has roughly $103 million and this money is used to help ease the burden when the state experiences revenue shortfalls.  As I have mentioned before, the Governor’s budget is the recommendation for how the incoming revenue will be appropriated; however, legislators ultimately decide funding for the state agencies, programs, and services and the Governor’s budget is used as a guide in the decision making process.

Transportation is a topic that arises every session.  Especially now with declining budget figures, we must continue to improve transportation infrastructure and also come up with a transportation funding plan.  This week, the Governor stated that he would support a referendum on a regional sales tax to support transportation.   The House and Senate lawmakers will continue working together and in cooperation with each other to find a solution.

In addition, education will continue to be a priority.  If we had the ideal perfect economic and budget situation, we would be increasing the amount of funding for education. However because of our budget situation, all departments will have to make cuts.  In the Amended 2010 budget, Perdue recommended that Public K-12 reduce their budget by an additional three percent.  Although this is difficult, other agencies faced between eight and nine percent reductions.  Perdue also mentioned a possibility of teacher compensation being based upon student performance.  This is an idea that will be reviewed; however, we must also consider that in more rural areas, teachers have fewer resources available to them.  Although the education budget will have to reduced, as will the budgets of all state agencies, education is still a main concern.  The benefits of improving education have a ripple effect that can be seen in our communities and throughout the state and country.  As legislators, we understand that we are educating the leaders of the future and that providing quality education is essential for our future.  Your opinions and concerns are important to me and I consider it an honor to serve you at the state capitol and in our district. If you would like to reach me, please call me at (404) 656-7573 or write me at: State Rep. John Lunsford, 508 CLOB, State Capitol, Atlanta, GA  30334 or e-mail me at





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