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Today, Legislative Day 3, was what many consider the “first work day” for state lawmakers. No special ceremonies or speeches; no snow or ice. Overall, Georgia House and Senate committees are just getting warmed up, having organizational meetings and starting to examine agency budgets in a little more detail than perhaps they did last week during the FY11/FY12 budget hearings. That said, I think today is an opportune time to discuss a sizeable federal issue which cold affect kids right here at home: Federal budget proposals.

This week, Congressmen and women will vote on a resolution (H. Res 38) reducing federal spending to 2008 levels. This approach exempts defense spending. On the other hand, education, health, nutrition, and child welfare services would sustain significant reductions. For example, in this proposal, dollars going to children in special education grants would be cut by 53 percent. Head Start would be cut by 27 percent. Adoption incentives would be slashed by 89 percent. Yet, discussion on how to raise revenues has been surprisingly absent.

Another proposal by the Republican Study Committee would have Congress reduce spending to 2006 spending levels. This amounts to a $2.5 trillion cut over 10 years. It would even rescind any remaining stimulus money, as well as the bump in Medicaid support passed just last summer.

We believe that children are important to all of Georgia’s lawmakers. That said, if one of these resolutions were to pass, how would states like Georgia make up the difference in lost federal dollars?

FY 2011:
For the current fiscal year Deal lowered the revenue estimate by $27.5 million while also adding more money for K-12 schools mostly to make up for increased enrollment. Most state agencies will have to enact 4 % cuts for the rest of FY2011, although most agencies have been aware that this could be the case, and so have been preparing for the formal ask.
FY 2012:
For 2012, Governor Deal believes state revenue will be 3.75% higher than the current fiscal year, but the need to replace more than $1 billion in federal stimulus money, which goes away at the end of FY 2011 will negate much of that growth. That said, state agencies are being asked to cut their budgets by an average of 7%.
What’s Next:
The budgets now go to the House Appropriations Committee which traditionally amends the budget, but cannot change the revenue estimates.

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