State leaders expecting $4B budget shortfall over coronavirus

ATLANTA — State budget cuts are coming because of the near halt in our economy, state leaders confirmed Monday to Channel 2 Action News.

Georgia, like the rest of the states across the country, are taking in less money.

[READ: University System of GA preparing for job cuts, furloughs as state looks to cut billions from budget]

Channel 2 anchor Justin Farmer spoke with Georgia’s top leaders and economists, who told him just about everything’s on the table to balance the budget.

Georgia House Speaker David Ralston said cuts will be significant statewide.

“There's an expected $3.5 billion to $4 billion budget shortfall," Ralston said.

Gov. Brian Kemp, who must sign any budget, told Farmer the same.

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“We can't spend more revenue than we bring in and obviously, you know the revenue that's been coming in has taken a nosedive in this environment,” Kemp said.

With no bars open, hardly anyone eating out, no concerts, virtually no commuting, the tax revenue for Georgia has fallen dramatically.

Every state department and agency are being asked to submit a 14% budget reduction.

“It's deeper than we saw in the great recession,” said Tom Cunningham, chief economist for the Metro Atlanta Chamber.

Cunningham believes that since Georgia is required to have a balanced budget, federal dollars will also likely be coming.

“Certainly, the federal government knows state and local governments are in serious trouble here,” Cunningham said.

Farmer asked Ralston if the General Assembly is considering raising taxes.

"(This is) not a good time to raise taxes with job losses," Ralston said.

With many Georgians having to watch every dollar, the state's now in a challenge like one we've never seen.

“We’ve got to fight two wars right now. We got to fight the coronavirus war, and then we got to fight the war to bring our economy back because there are substantial negative impacts from both of those,” Kemp said.