The following comes from the Georgia Senate Democratic Caucus.
Atlanta, Ga. - Republicans in the Georgia General Assembly have put political fundraising ahead of the people of Georgia by eliminating the traditional budget process and compressing hearings into a single, half-day session. State legislators will have little time to discuss the state’s supplemental budget.
“In the past 25 years that I’ve served in the General Assembly, I’ve never seen the budget stampeded like this. Transparency and accountability should be our highest priority; instead, it’s the first victim of the process,” said Sen. Nan Orrock (D-Atlanta).
Passing a budget is the only constitutionally mandated responsibility of the General Assembly. Republicans are attempting to cram nearly two weeks of work into six hours of hearings.
“The state budget is our blueprint for how we spend taxpayer dollars. It is the single most important thing the legislature does. Racing through the budget process is not in the best interest of the citizens of Georgia, and it certainly doesn’t bode well for an open and transparent government,” said Sen. Valencia Seay (D-Riverdale).
Democrats said Republicans are sacrificing the needs of Georgians for their own political gain. In an election year, the GOP is hoping to end the session early so they can begin fundraising.
“This isn’t about serving the people of Georgia and passing a quality budget. This is about Republicans, in heated primary races, wanting to leave town as fast as they can so they can go fundraise with their big-money donors. Democrats are willing to take their time and complete the job,” said Sen. Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta).
Adding to the shadow budgeting, the governor’s office has yet to release any information about budget proposals to Georgia’s legislators.
More Georgians are living on the desperate side of the federal poverty line than at any time in the state’s recent history. At the same time, pathways to exit poverty are increasingly blocked as the state failed to make strategic investments when needed.
“This is not the time to play games with our state budget,” said Fort. “Now, more than ever, is the time for greater transparency in government, so we can talk about what is needed for Georgia’s working and middle class families and how the state budget effects them.”