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Wednesday, January 23, 2013 - 11:23am

Deal Budget Gives Archives $4.3M

The Georgia Archives would get more than $4.3 million next year in the governor’s proposed budget. But questions remain about whether that would mean more access for the public.

The archives’ budget ended up at roughly $4.3 million this year after the secretary of state cut more than $600,000 this fall and laid off five employees, half the archives’ staff. The governor’s budget would restore the archives to a full staff of 10 employees.

“We are in a position now of defending the level of service that there is currently, which I sincerely hope we are going to be able to do,” said Vivian Price Saffold, co-chair of the Georgia Genealogical Society’s Save the Archives Campaign. “The Archives has five employees now. It’s open two days a week to the public. And we certainly don’t want to back down from that position.”

Public outcry saved the Georgia Archives from closing outright in the fall and Gov. Nathan Deal provided $125,000 through the end of the fiscal year June 30.

In the long term, the governor has said he wants to transfer the archives to the University System of Georgia. A bill to make that change is expected later in the legislative session. But Saffold said that means the Board of Regents will also have input on the archives’ budget.

She said another $300,000 could make a big difference in the archives’ operation.

“At this point, I’m not sure if that’s realistic either, but $300,000 would go a long way toward restoring some of the services that are no longer being done at the archives because of the budget cuts and possibly get us another day open to the public,” Saffold said.

Archives supporters have already rallied once at the state Capitol since the lawmaking session began. They were originally hoping for about $1 million more in funding to restore full service.

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