Georgia's tax revenues have been falling dramatically, and state lawmakers have been left with the task of finding a way, during the upcoming 2020 General Assembly session, of replacing that revenue.
Earlier this year, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed a record $27.5 billion state budget.
The budget was large enough to pay for the governor's proposed $3,000 pay raises for teachers and to completely fund additional monies that Kemp had proposed for the state's grade school improvements.
However, an examination of net state tax collections over the course of the past few months has shown that incoming revenues have fallen dramatically -- 1.6 percent, or $32.3 million in October and another 1.2 percent, or $22.4 million in November.
In August, Kemp ordered state agencies to reduce spending by 4 percent during the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, 2020, and by 6 percent for Fiscal Year 2021, which begins July 1, 2020.
According to our partners at the Atlanta Business Chronicle, this marks the first spending cuts ordered by a Georgia governor since the immediate aftermath of the Great Recession more than a decade ago.
The Business Chronicle said that State House Speaker David Ralston said House budget writers would get an early start for places to cut by working during the fall as opposed to waiting until Kemp delivers his recommendations for spending in January.
Another issue that the lowered revenues create is whether or not the General Assembly should follow through with a proposed second phase of a state tax cut which would lower Georgia's income tax rate from 5.75 percent to 5.5 percent.
If state lawmakers do take that step, their next task is to decide how the state would replace any additional monies lost as a result of the tax cut.
Some individuals have proposed various forms of legalized gambling as a way to bring money into the state's coffers.
Supporters have argued that while illegal in Georgia, gambling takes place in the state anyway and would generate significant revenue for the state.
Any legislation in that direction would face an uphill battle beneath the Gold Dome, as both Speaker Ralston and Gov. Kemp have both expressed reservations.
Georgia's 2020 General Assembly session begins January 14.
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