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State budget hearings under way

POSTED: January 18, 2011 11:11 a.m.

ATLANTA - Hearings on Georgia's budget have opened at the state Capitol, with newly installed Gov. Nathan Deal outlining his $18.2 billion spending plan to state lawmakers.

Deal said Tuesday there are reasons to be optimistic - the number of Georgians working has increased and consumer confidence is up.

But the state is also facing the loss of about $1 billion in federal stimulus money for the fiscal year that begins July 1. Deal said state agencies will be asked to take an average cut of 7 percent for fiscal year 2012. That comes on top of three years of back-to-back cuts.

Tuesday's joint meeting of the House and Senate Appropriations committees is the first step for the Legislature as they take up Deal's budget blueprint.

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