ATLANTA (December 2, 2008) – Senate Appropriations subcommittee meetings resumed today at the Capitol with the Education subcommittee and the Best Value in Government Task Force joint workshop. The subcommittee discussed agency reports, efficiencies, and cost savings for the Department of Education (DOE) and Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL). Senators Dan Moody (R-Johns Creek) and Mitch Seabaugh (R-Sharpsburg) co-chaired the meeting.
“We as a legislature are doing everything we can to ensure Georgia’s education system meets the needs of every student, teacher, and parent” said Sen. Moody. “We are looking at every state agency line-by-line as an opportunity to identify mission-critical programs to be as fiscally responsible as we can during this budget shortfall, but we cannot sacrifice the quality of our public school system, especially the learning environment of our students and working conditions of our teachers and staff.”
Each agency presented an overview of programs, efficiencies, and cost savings that have been implemented. The current budgets were submitted and several agencies were asked to provide further detailed information on particular programs or services. Members of the committee focused on uncovering duplicated services between agencies, and encouraged making as many programs self sufficient as possible.
DOE Deputy Superintendant Scott Austensen gave the committee an overview of the state education budget. The committee looked closely at funding being provided for teacher mentoring programs, curriculum development initiatives, student extension programs, charter school startups, and administrative structure. Members discussed finding efficiencies in the ways each of these programs are structured while not sacrificing vital services being provided to students and teachers. Senators also suggested cost-saving measures such as electronic and online training courses for teachers.
The committee also heard testimony from DECAL Commissioner Holly Robinson who outlined her agency’s plans to conform to the proposed budget cuts. These included reducing the number of agency contracts and utilizing teleconferencing to limit travel costs and increase productivity.
The final joint workshop is scheduled for mid-December discussing fiscal management. The workshops are being held at the request of Lt. Governor Casey Cagle, who has charged the Senate to proactively identify non-essential government services and maximize efficiency and value in our state government.