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Thursday, July 1, 2010 - 9:40am

Slimmer Budget Year Begins

As of Thursday, July 1st, Georgia is now operating under a new--and slimmer--fiscal year budget. The spending plan is $3 billion leaner than only three years ago.

With state revenues down 17 of the past 18 months, lawmakers had to craft a budget with cuts across the board. For state agencies, the realities of those cuts now take hold--whether it’s fewer staff members or cuts to services.

As example, there are fewer state social workers to handle Medicaid and food stamp processing.

Vicky Kimbrell is an attorney who helps people apply for social services. She says in this economy, an already stressed system becomes even more so:

”This is not the place to cut benefits or to cut the budget, where you have people who are so desperately in need. It’s really a desperate and scary place to start to cut.”

K-through-12 education has about half a billion dollars less to work with—and that’s become one of the hot button topics for gubernatorial candidates.

Tim Callahan with the Professional Association of Georgia Educators says these cuts will have long-term effects for state education:

“We’re losing a whole generation of young men and women in their first and second and third year, several thousand of those are being let-go across the state. They’ll find other jobs and they may not come back to education.”

The nearly $18 billion budget also includes a little more than $1 billion being used for payments on money borrowed for bond projects in Georgia. The budget as constructed also assumes revenue growth within the next 12 months.