By: Sen. Bill Hamrick (R-Carrollton)
In January, Gov. Deal released his amended budget for FY 2012. It is specifically stated in Georgia’s constitution that our state cannot spend more than what it receives in revenue. This is a fiscally responsible requirement that permits Georgia to maintain a Triple-A bond rating—we are one of only eight states to hold this distinction—and prevents Georgia from perpetual debt.
Just like any household budget, Georgia’s state budget is dependent on revenue and has unanticipated expenses. Adjustments need to be made periodically, and this is the reason why we amend the current fiscal year budget every January. We cannot allow deficit spending, and therefore need to review the budget to ensure revenues will sustain the investments in state agencies, programs and infrastructure.
On Thursday, February 23, the Senate passed HB 741, the FY 2012 Amended Budget. The Senate has recommended an amended budget of $18.5 billion in total state funds. Because the House version of the bill includes line items different from than the bill passed by the Senate, members from both chambers will now determine a mutually agreed-upon bill.
A few days prior to the passage of HB 741 by the Senate, Gov. Deal lowered the revenue estimate by approximately $47.2 million from his originally introduced FY 2012 Amended Budget—a move triggered by the flat revenues of recent months.
In FY 2009 and FY 2010, the difference between the General and Amended budgets was a reduction of $2.3 billion and $1.5 billion, respectively. Four of the top 10 revenue declines in Georgia happened in the first decade of the millennium, and FY 2009 and FY 2010 were the toughest reductions.
Georgia’s FY 2012 Amended Budget of $18.5 billion is considerably smaller than FY 2008’s Amended Budget of $20.5 billion. This is a result of the General Assembly’s focus on spending reductions as revenues declined.
This is why it is imperative for the General Assembly to focus on initiatives that stimulate job creation and economic growth. We need to continue giving strong consideration to bills that reduce the financial burden on businesses and shift concentration towards hiring and expansion, not just during the 2012 legislative session but also in those to come.
Although there are signs of economic recovery, our state is still navigating through bumpy financial waters. As a result, our state must find the right balance between the needs of its people and our constitutional obligation to provide a balanced budget.
There will continue to be tough decisions made in the fiscal years going forward, but at no time will the basic necessities of Georgians be ignored. Just like in any household, personal or business budget, the most fiscally responsible decisions are also the most difficult ones. However, those decisions are also the ones that are the most likely to bring lasting financial stability.
I welcome constituents to contact my office at any time with questions and concerns about our state’s financial health or bills of interest. To receive frequent updates about the 2012 legislative session, please be sure to visit my social media pages via the links below.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 28, 2012
Natalie Dale, Director
Jennifer Yarber, Deputy Director