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Georgia revenue collections fall 6.6 percent

POSTED: August 16, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Gov. Sonny Perdue says state revenue collections for last month fell 6.6 percent from this time last year. Revenue for the first month of the 2008-09 fiscal year totaled $1.2 billion, a decrease of $86.4 million from the same month a year ago.

The news followed a dismal report in June, when monthly revenues were down $168 million from 2007. State officials are slashing department budgets and withholding tax cuts for homeowners in light of a projected budget shortfall of $1.6 billion this fiscal year, which began July 1.

Perdue has ordered cuts of 6 percent and will defer state employee pay raises planned for January to deal with the shortfall. There are exceptions for the Department of Education, which likely will be cut 2 percent, and the state Medicaid program, which is expecting cuts of 5 percent.

State Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, said he was not surprised at Monday’s announcement. "This is continuing the trend of what we have seen and what was expected," Collins said. "I’m hopeful that what we are seeing is a cutback in spending due to high gas prices."

The July report showed a 5.4 percent drop in sales taxes and a 6.5 percent drop in individual income taxes.

Corporate income tax collections were down 62 percent.

State Rep. Carl Rogers, R-Gainesville, said he was still "cautiously optimistic" despite another month of decline. "It’s not too bad considering the times we’re in," Rogers said. "I think this situation may be bottoming out."

Major state institutions, such as Lanier Technical College and North Georgia College and State University, are preparing recommendations for additional cuts, as requested by Perdue.

Mike Moye, president of Lanier Technical College, said state funds for the school totaled $10.5 million. A 6 percent cut would mean trimming nearly $593,000 from the school. Moye also has prepared estimates of 8 percent and 10 percent, as requested.

Kate Maine, a spokewoman from North Georgia, said the university’s state budget for this year is $28.3 million. The school’s administration previously had identified a possible 5 percent cut totalling $1.4 million.

"Anything beyond, that gets very tough," she said.

Officials with Gainesville State College could not be reached to get their budget figures.

Some budget observers believe that cuts of more than 6 percent cannot be accomplished without furloughs or layoffs.



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