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Tuesday, March 15, 2011 - 9:48am

Lawmakers Want To Scrutinize State Spending

Members of the Georgia House say it's time for state agencies to justify their budgets from the ground up.

Lawmakers there passed a bill Monday that would implement a new way of creating government spending plans.

So-called zero-based budgeting differs sharply from how budgets are formulated right now.

Instead of funding agencies based on how much they received the year before, state officials would have to explain every dollar, not just every new one.

Republican State Rep. Stephen Allison of Blairsville is the bill’s chief sponsor.

“We don’t know if we will find waste, but what we do know is it will allow us to account for every penny, and we haven’t been doing that in this state for a very long time,” Allison says.

The bill has a sunset provision, Allison says, that would give lawmakers an out if the measure is not productive. If passed, the bill would automatically expire in 2019.

A separate bill on the same issue made it through a Senate committee, and will come up for a vote on Wednesday.

Lawmakers passed a version of zero-based budgeting last year, but former Governor Sonny Perdue vetoed it, saying, it would cost too much to implement.

The measure speaks to a growing popular movement that is pressuring lawmakers, especially Republicans, to reduce spending and make government smaller.