Georgia Built Up Savings Over The Past Few Years. COVID-19 Wiped Much Of That Out
This story is part of an NPR nationwide analysis of states' revenue and budgets during the pandemic.
In Georgia, the new fiscal year has started out with more than $2 billion in cuts — about 10% of the state budget — as revenues are projected to continue to decline because of the coronavirus pandemic. At the budget signing ceremony, Republican Gov. Brian Kemp said state leaders had to make hard choices when it came to deciding what to eliminate. "While we were able to avoid draconian cuts, getting a balanced budget was hard," he said.
Revenue collections for the fiscal year were down 4.5% in June. While the state's income tax collection deadline was extended, lawmakers still estimate about $1 billion of the state's $2.7 billion rainy day fund will be needed to close out the budget year that ended June 30. The hardest-hit area is education, where $950 million was cut from the state's K-12 funding formula, but much of that will be supplemented by federal coronavirus relief funding sent directly to school systems.
State leaders already pulled another $250 million from the reserves to spare most state employees from furloughs. Amid the cuts, lawmakers did allocate $19 million in new spending to expand access to Medicaid for new mothers until six months after giving birth.
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