State lost $1B over last month, meaning massive cuts as lawmakers work to balance budget

State lost $1B over last month, meaning massive cuts as lawmakers work to balance budget

ATLANTA — The state of Georgia hemorrhaged money last month to the tune of more than $1 billion as the state’s economy takes a huge hit from the coronavirus shutdown.

Officials told Channel 2’s Richard Elliot they are trying to figure out how to make up for the loss of 35% of the state’s tax revenue in the last month.

Gov. Brian Kemp sent out a memo Friday calling on all state agencies to cut 14% of their budgets.

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A budget expert believes the state needs to do more than just cut its way out of the crisis.

“While the great recession was considered to be a once in a lifetime event, our current situation will certainly overshadow it,” the memo said. “That is why this request is being made to all areas of the state budget with no exceptions."

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“This recovery could take us into 2022 which is a little bit frightening,” said Taifa Butler with the left-leaning think tank Georgia Budget and Policy Institute.

Butler warns cuts everywhere could do as much harm as good. That’s why Butler said during this pandemic, the state should protect public and community health and find other ways to find money, like ending some tax break incentives.

“We have to have revenue options right now because we cannot weather this along with budget cuts,” Butler said.

Elliot caught up with local hiker Shaun Jones on Wednesday, who visits Panola Mountain State Park with his wife at least twice a week.

The Department of Natural Resources is just one of the many agencies asked to cut their budgets.

Jones said he’s worried what that will mean for state parks.

“Some of the state parks are suffering as it is already in terms of certain infrastructure parts, canopies, stuff like that. And so I expect it to really degrade further,” Jones said. “We’ll see what happens once there’s a recovery. Maybe things will snap back.”

The state is also warning the cuts could affect formula funding for local school systems.

Some lawmakers are asking Congress to support the $500 billion relief package to help state governments.

Lawmakers consider 14% cut in budget spending because of coronavirus shutdown