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Tuesday, August 9, 2011 - 10:55am

Deal Orders Agencies To Cut 2%

Governor Nathan Deal is directing state agency heads to cut their budgets by 2%.

Deal wants spending cuts in the current fiscal year budget that began last month and in next year's fiscal year budget, as well.

The instructions come even though state revenues are up.

July revenue figures show the state is collecting 7% percent more money this year over last.

Even so, Alan Essig of the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute says, the Governor is being cautious.

"His fear is that even with moderate revenue growth next year, that it's barely going to be enough to keep up with normal budget growth," Essig says. "So, I think he's trying to leave himself some options in case he needs to cut some budgets."

Deal's directive exempts K-12 schools, Medicaid and prisons.

"The month-to-month revenue increases are good," Essig says. "But as we're planning for next year's budget, we need to have three, four or five months worth of revenues to have a real sense of where we are."

Deal's spokesman says, the Governor also is bracing for potential cuts from the federal government.

The state relies on billions of dollars in Washington aid.

Overall state revenue and spending have declined by about $3.5 billion, or 19%, from its pre-Recession high.