ATLANTA — Citing “reassuring signs of fiscal resilience” in Georgia, Gov. Brian Kemp announced Wednesday that cuts to next year’s state budget won’t be as deep as originally feared.
In a video message, Kemp notified state agency heads and legislative leaders he is preparing an updated revenue estimate that will call for 11% across-the-board spending reductions in the coming fiscal year rather than the 14% cuts originally anticipated.
The new revenue projections reflect expectations the coronavirus pandemic will have somewhat less of an economic impact on Georgia’s economy than had been predicted when the 14% cuts were ordered.
“Our state is positioned to weather this storm better than most,” Kemp said. “I’m hopeful our state will be able to avoid the draconian cuts and measures many others across the country will be forced to make.”
State senators holding budget hearings since last week have been confronted with the difficult choice between furloughing teachers and state employees or keeping them on the job at reduced pay.
Kemp said Wednesday the pandemic has highlighted the importance of teachers, health-care workers and others on the front line of fighting COVID-19.
He pledged to make education, health care and public safety top priorities even as agency heads and lawmakers grapple with tough decisions on how to balance the state’s needs with declining tax revenues.
The General Assembly, which was suspended in mid-March by the coronavirus outbreak, will reconvene June 15, with passing the fiscal 2021 state budget as its top priority. Just 11 days remain in the 2020 legislative session.