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Rep. Houston Gaines on Budget Challenges Facing Lawmakers

As business and local governments around Georgia begin to reopen, Georgia lawmakers are preparing for their eventual return to the Capitol. District 117 Representative Houston Gaines says due to the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic; the state budget will be a priority.

“The budget that we passed back through the house in March, as you can imagine, things have changed significantly since that time,” Gaines said. “And as we’re constitutionally required to pass a balanced budget, that’s going to be an immediate focus because we’ve got to find a way to fund our priorities. Certainly related to public health, but education across the board as we are in a very difficult economic environment.”

State agencies are being asked to cut up to $3.8 billion from their budgets, a move Gaines acknowledges will be difficult.

“We’ve got to, through policy as well, continue to lead our state forward as we deal with these challenges. Finding ways to help individuals and businesses who that been decimated by the coronavirus pandemic.”

He acknowledges there are additional, pressing needs facing state leaders as well.

“Certainly continue to fund the public health side of this issue; contact tracing, testing, these are certainly going to be areas of focus as we move back into session” Gaines said. “We’ve got to do all we can to help folks because I know theses an extremely challenging time, but I am confident that we’ll defeat the virus, we’ll move pass this and we’ll emerge even stronger on the other side.”

Agencies have until May 20, to come up with plans to cut their budgets by 14%. Those cuts are expected in all areas, with no exceptions.

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