ATLANTA — State Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jack Hill (R-Reidsville) spoke on the Senate floor Thursday morning regarding Georgia’s recent revenue numbers and the budget challenges facing the legislature this year. Despite hearing the reality of the budget shortfall and the gap between last year’s and this year’s revenue numbers, Senate leaders expressed an understanding of the challenge they are facing and vowed to implement solutions for long-term benefit.
With the 2009 budget shortfall at $2.2 billion, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle is convinced that any fixes the General Assembly tries to implement must be fiscally responsible and sustaining.
“We are facing a very challenging budget season and should prepare for the worst while we hope for the best,” Cagle said. “It is my priority this year to balance this budget, not by seeking the aid of creative revenue enhancements, but by making the tough decisions to fund essential government services and cutting those that are not. I am confident in the Senate leadership as we work toward implementing strong, fiscally responsible policies that will steer our great state for many years to come.”
Georgia’s income tax receipts were down almost 2.7 percent compared to last year at this time, and that the state is showing a serious decline in December 2008 revenues as compared to December 2007. Hill noted it is difficult to say if revenues will decrease through 2009. He urged his Senate colleagues to enter this session with a conservative mindset.
“There’s no doubt we are facing difficult times now and with the uncertainty of knowing where the bottom will be, there has never been a more pressing need for all legislators to be as informed and open-minded as possible in working together on the state’s budget,” he said. “Working with the governor and our colleagues in the House I believe Georgia will be fine in the long-run, as long as we look at sustainable solutions. That’s why things like the rainy day savings fund were created — to help with unpredictable times and it’s that type of mentality that will allow us to prosper long into the future.”
Hill noted during his presentation that while it is difficult to be positive in Georgia’s current economic state, he reminded state leaders that recent drops in oil and food prices, a stable manufacturing industry with new automobile plants entering the state, a growing Savannah port and the historically resilient U.S. economy as a whole are ways to look at Georgia with an optimistic future.