Ceremonies at the Georgia State Capitol Tuesday marking the state’s 280th Birthday were missing the historical documents usually on display for the annual celebration. Budget cuts at the Georgia Archives caused many of the historical documents to stay their home in Morrow instead of making the 16 mile trip to the State Capitol.
Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who oversees the Georgia Archives, says it is necessary decision as state agencies deal with budget cuts.
“I think we are experiencing historic times in the Archives right now. You know, I had to make a very difficult decision to meet the Governor’s three percent cut. That has really changed the whole way we are doing business down there.”
Governor Nathan Deal ordered most state agencies to cut their fiscal year 2013 budget by three percent. The state of Georgia is operating under that budget until June 30th of this year.
That led Secretary Kemp to cut the Archives full-time staff from 10 to 5 last November. The number of days the Archives was open to the public went from six a days a week to two.
With more cuts possibly on the way in the fiscal year 2014 budget, lawmakers with the backing of the Governor are proposing legislation to move the governance of the Georgia Archives from the Secretary of State’s office to the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia.
Secretary Kemp back the move. “When I was working with the governor, I think our thought was that moving this to Regents, you know their budget is billions ours is less than twenty five million so they certainly have bigger economies of scale.”
Kemp says some of those “economies of scale” could include lowering utility bills and combining some services with nearby Clayton State University.
State Representative Matt Hatchett of Dublin is the sponsor of the legislation transferring governance of the Archives.
Hatchett, who is a House Floor Leader for Governor Deal, believes the University System of Georgia could help the Georgia Archives with some staffing issues.
“It does bring up the opportunity for some work-study students at Clayton State possibly to help with the managing of the facility.”
Clayton State University has an Archival Studies program.
Representative Hatchett doesn’t see the Archives moving after its transition to the University System of Georgia.
“Do not think you will see the Archives move. They are in a building that was built for them in 1996, I believe. It is built specifically for the Archives and I think you will see it stay right where it is.”
The governance legislation, House Bill 287, has been assigned to the House Governmental Affairs Committee.