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Governor signs $26 billion budget with some of the steepest cuts in state history

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Gov. Kemp signed the FY 2021 budget Tuesday morning.

The $26 billion budget was passed late Friday on the final day of the legislative session.

“This budget speaks to some of the hard choices made by state leaders to streamline and innovate,” Kemp said during the signing Tuesday. “While we were able to avoid draconian cuts, getting a balanced budget was hard. In these challenging times, this budget reflects that reality.”

This has been one of the toughest budgets the state has faced since the Great Recession. Lawmakers took two months off because of the pandemic and didn’t return until June 15.

Budget writers told Channel 2′s Richard Elliot that during the Great Recession, there was a slow decline and they were able to handle it better.

But with the country’s economy essentially shutting down because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the decline happened in the matter of a couple of months.

Going into budget negotiations, lawmakers were warned that state agencies across the board were likely going to have to make a 14% cut. But recent tax revenues have come in a little higher than expected, and lawmakers were able to trim the cuts down to 10% across the board.

Regardless of the reduction, the cuts are likely the steepest in state history.

One bright spot in the budget is there are no furloughs for the 245,000 state employees and job cuts were minimized.

The budget included a $900 million cut to education, which includes K-12 and the state’s university system.

Some $400 million from the Federal CARES Act has already been sent to many of the school districts, which the state believes offset much of those cuts.

The 2020 session has been one of the longest and most grueling sessions in Georgia history.

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