WEEKLY LEGISLATIVE REPORT

Representative Barbara Massey Reece

Week of January 18, 2009

  

            For several years, Georgia has struggled through the economic recession along with the rest of the country.  Despite the economic slowdown, Georgia has continued to grow in population since the 2000 Census by 18.3% according to estimated figures presented to the Reapportionment Committee.  It is probably that the 2010 Census figures will show that Georgia has earned an additional Congressional seat.  Georgia remains one of the top 10 fastest growing states in the nation.

 

            Georgia’s population of youth under age 18 is 2.1% above the national average.  Due to the high rate of unemployment, Georgians are returning to school in droves.  Our technical colleges have increased enrollment by 21%.  Over half the budget is designated for education.

 

            Budget hearings were held last week as the Governor announced his proposed FY 2010 Amended Budget and FY 2011 Budget.  Declining state revenues have resulted in a total FY 2010 and FY 2011 budget shortfall of $4.6 billion.  The FY 2011 State Budget contains$18.1 billion.  The budget also contains $1.4 billion in Recovery Act funds.  Money from the Recovery Act will be used to fund education, public safety agencies, and Medicaid.

 

            The per student rate spending on K-12 education and the University System will be the lowest it has been in decades after this round of budget cuts.  Governor Perdue’s proposed FY 2011 budget will spend $6.96 billion in state funds and $343 million in federal Recovery Act stabilization funds to educate 1.6 million K-12 students.  This is a 10.9 percent cut from the original FY 2009 budget.  School systems will receive a total of $839 million less than the Quality Basic Education formula directs.

 

            The proposed FY 2011 budget reduces funding for many programs, including state schools for the hearing and visually-impaired, school nurses, agriculture education, and services for students with autism or severe emotional behavior programs.

 

            These cuts mean larger class sizes, salary cuts, and less support for technology training and professional development among other things.  The amended FY 2010 budget proposal includes three additional furlough days for teachers and state employees.

 

            Every department will have funds cut and many options are possible.  The Department of Natural Resources is considering the closing of four state parks.  At the same time, the DNR budget designates funds for the construction of additional cabins in six state parks that have high income.

 

Cloudland Canyon State Park is slated for additional cabins.  Over 201,000 visitors there had an economic impact of almost $13 million for the area and it supports 148 jobs.

 

            Our Sloppy Floyd State Park is not slated for closure or expansion at this time.  With 110, 570 visitors, the economic impact for our area is almost $7 million and it supports 81 local jobs.

 

            Appropriations Subcommittees are busy reviewing the Governor’s recommended budget to determine changes to recommend to the full House of Representatives.

 

            Rep. Reece may be reached at 404-656-7859 or barbara.reece@house.ga.gov.  Rep. Reece serves on the Education Committee, State Institutions and Properties Committee, Science and Technology Committee, and the Legislative and Congressional Reapportionment Committee.  She is also Secretary of the Rural Caucus.