Georgia State Republican leaders are snubbing the massive federal bailout package saying they’ll balance the shrinking state budget without Washington’s help. All of Georgia’s republican U.S. House Representatives voted against the stimulus package. Even though the state is facing a 2.2 billion dollars budget shortfall.
Meanwhile on the state level, Republicans budget writers are not waiting for federal who are writing the state budget stand firmly with their congressional counterparts. Chip Rogers is the state Senate majority leader. He says the stimulus package sends the wrong message.
“My fear is that what we're going to see is a rewarding of bad behavior, and that's not uncommon out of our federal government,” Rogers says. “You're going to take states like California and New York who have done an absolute miserable job balancing their budget and reward them for their bad behavior by bailing them out, whereas states like Georgia and Indiana and places that have done a good job and have been fiscally prudent- we're ultimately going to pay the price.”
So Georgia budget writers are forging ahead. They’ve already spent 11 days on the budget. According to the constitution they have 29 left. And Roger’s says lawmakers will not take a break and wait for federal help.
“Regardless of what congress does, we need to handle Georgia's business. And the longer we wait, particularly with fiscal year 09 amended budget, every day that goes by there is less money and less flexibility. “
One thing Rogers and fellow republicans vowed to do is find $428 Million dollars at least this year to fund the Homestead exemption grants which save homeowners about 2 to 300 dollars a year. Senate President pro temp Tommie Williams says state employees may need to work less to make ends meet.
“You can't get to 428 million dollars without...without furloughs. And frankly, many of the agencies are already furloughing, so we'll...we'll look throughout the budget and those that we can furlough we will,” Williams says.
He vowed that public safety and the prison system would not be required to furlough. He also says that should Congress pass a stimulus plan that includes money for Georgia, he would like to spend it on Transportation.
-By Susanna Capelouto