Tuesday, March 9, 2010

weekly update from Rep Lunsford

Under the Gold Dome

State Representative John Lunsford's

Weekly Capitol Update

The State’s Budget and Legislation

March 9, 2010


Last week the General Assembly concluded the last week of our two week recess to work on the Fiscal Year 2011 Budget.  It is a difficult task to balance the budget for the state, but one that must be effectively done.  Budget hearings have consumed all of our time over the last two weeks as we look for ways to reduce state spending and increase revenue.  It is difficult when the state has been financially supporting many state agencies and departments and now current economic conditions have forced us to make difficult budgetary decisions.  Due to the decrease in incoming revenue to the state, we must reduce spending so we can have a balanced budget.  The General Assembly should receive the revenue figures for February sometime next week and we will be able to better determine exactly what the monetary amount of cuts will have to be made.  Appropriations Subcommittee meetings this week included Public Safety and Higher Education. 

Over the last few weeks, many citizens have called or written with concerns over the proposed cuts to the budget.  As I have stated before, the state of Georgia is experiencing revenue shortfalls and we must trim the budget to the bare essentials and necessities. Financial hardships are something many Georgians are experiencing and the state is as well.  We have to make sacrifices and we all must share part of the ever slimming pie.  Just as families are reducing their spending, the state must also do the same. 

Many have expressed concerns this week over the proposed University System of Georgia budget cuts.  The cuts that have been proposed this week were not from the members of the General Assembly, these cuts were the proposals from the University System of Georgia.  As legislators, we went to each department and state agency and asked them to propose ways that they could cut spending.  With the understanding that cuts are not an easy decision, we let them tell us where the cuts could be made.  The budget cuts that were recommended by the University System of Georgia are their proposals and included items such as potential tuition increase, eliminating positions, reducing the acceptance number of incoming freshmen, and other various spending cuts.  As your elected official, I want you to know that these suggestions are just proposals that the University system have given us.  We will work with them to find other ways to cut the budget so it has the least possible impact on the citizens of Georgia.

Numerous people have contacted our office this week in regard to the 4-H Program.  The General Assembly supports this program and did not make the proposal to eliminate it.  We will look at every means possible to ensure the programs that are important to the citizens of Georgia remain; however, cuts involving many services and programs should be expected.  The suggestion to eliminate the 4-H Program was made this week during a budget hearing by one of the University Presidents.  Once again, this was a proposal made by the University System of Georgia and all proposed measures will be decided by the General Assembly.  Our intentions were to make the Departments aware that more cuts will be coming and allow them to give us some input as to where the cuts could come from; however, the proposals made are just possibilities.  The legislators will work together to make cuts and ensure that the programs most needed are funded to the best of our ability. On Monday, we will go back into session for legislative day number twenty-one.  Feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns that you may have.  I always look forward to the input of those I represent.  . 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    john.lunsford@house.ga.gov



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