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Tuesday, February 23, 2010 - 3:58am

Joint Budget Committee Begins Tough Work

Another sobering day for committee lawmakers is ahead Tuesday at the state Capitol as budget hearings continue. In front of the microscope today will be education and health care in Georgia.

Meetings of the joint House and Senate Appropriations committee began Monday as Georgia House and Senate leaders try to balance the state’s spending plan.

It’s an unprecedented move to hold the joint House and Senate committee hearings as lawmakers joined forces to question agency heads this week. They are nitpicking budget line items as they try to deal with a more than $1 billion shortfall.

Representative Chuck Martin, co-chair of the committee, had this warning for agency heads before their testimony.

“This is not personal, this is not anybody questioning your professionalism, but we're in a very difficult time here in Georgia. We are frankly in a position where we have to do more for the same or less money."

One political observer noted that budget writers look like they're haggling over crumbs and may need to bite the bullet and raise taxes if the state's revenue numbers don't improve soon.

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