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Budget challenges facing our state
Other opinion
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When the Georgia General Assembly convenes in January in Atlanta, revenue — or the lack thereof — may decide what gets done.

That was the message at the recent three-day Biennial Institute, a pre-legislative issues briefing for state lawmakers.

The pre-session meetings concluded with Gov. Nathan Deal cautioning legislators not to anticipate money for many new initiatives.

“I must tell you it is a rather daunting budget this year,” Deal said.

Tax collections decreased by 1 percent last month compared to the same period a year ago. Fiscal year-to-date tax collections are up just 3.7 percent. That’s below the 4 percent growth rate the state budget is based on.

Deal already has asked state agencies to trim spending 3 percent from what was appropriated for this fiscal year. Morris News Atlanta Bureau Chief Walter Jones reports that equals the $700 million shortfall in the state’s Medicaid system, and that Deal said requirements of the federal health-reform law will add another $42 million in expenses for the program.

Deal was cautious about the budget, and he did not use the briefing to outline many specifics of his legislative agenda. Those things he did mention were items that would not call for significant public spending.

Lawmakers convene for the 2013 General Assembly session in about a month. It may be an interesting session with more attention again toward cutting the budget rather than initiating spending programs.

— Newnan Times-Herald

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