Tifton Gazette

Local News

November 9, 2009

Legislators: Tough session ahead

TIFTON — State elected representatives honored Monday morning with a breakfast at the Tifton-Tift County Chamber of Commerce told the room packed with people that tough economic times will continue through the next legislative session and call for more cuts to the budget.

State Representative Austin Scott (R-Tifton), State Representative Jay Roberts (R-Ocilla) and State Senator John D. “Dickey” Crosby (R-Tifton) discussed issues of concern with those who attended.

Scott, who is running for governor, said that state revenues for October were down 17.5 percent.

“Anyone who tells you we are putting more money in aren’t telling you the truth,” Scott said. “The money is simply not there to do what we have done in the past.”

Scott said budgets will have to be cut more and that he would like for the state to find more “entrepreneurial ways to do things.”

“We are not in a good position,” Roberts said. “We are looking at 2003 and 2004 funding levels with 1.5 million more people. With added growth comes bigger demand for services.”

Roberts said that even with the budget cuts of the past, the state used its reserve funds last year.

“This year, we don’t have any reserves,” Roberts said. “We are looking at closing down some programs.”

When asked, Roberts said he wouldn’t discuss which state programs might be cut, saying that legislators were “going through the budget as we speak.” He said that some agencies might be combined to reduce the number of staff needed. He said that he would like to see budgets created from “zero” rather than a 10 percent across-the-board cut to state departments and agencies.

“It makes you go in there and re-evaluate the programs,” Roberts said.

Crosby, who was first elected to the Senate last year, thanked Scott and Roberts for their assistance and said that it was humbling to be the newest senator.

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