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Monday, November 8, 2010 - 7:57am

Deal Begins State Budget Work

Governor-elect Nathan Deal is underway with state budget meetings this week. Only six days removed from his gubernatorial victory, the Gainesville Republican is meeting all week with state budget officials and key budget writers within the General Assembly.

And his spokesman Brian Robinson says the meetings will extend beyond this week:

“It will be an ongoing process not only throughout the week, but really throughout the next two months. This is a very big process, and a lot of important decisions need to be made in the next two months before we can present a budget to the Legislature in January.”

Deal is tasked with the job of helping to write an $18 billion state budget that is likely to be in the red by about $1.8 billion into the next fiscal year.

Sarah Beth Gehl of the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute says it’s a “really difficult task” for Deal, made tougher by what’s immediately ahead:

“We’re going to see the expiration of the federal stimulus funds as well as a couple of other one-time funds like our reserves and selling-off some of our assets which brought in a little bit of money over the past few years.”

Deal will take office amid the state having absorbed big cuts the past couple of years.

He ran on a platform of lower taxes and smaller government, and says he wants to create a business climate to create jobs.