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Cagle: Expect more cuts to state budget
Former Rotary Club president Hank Tanner, right, talks Monday with Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle during a Rotary Club meeting at the First Baptist Church Fellowship Hall in Gainesville. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle says the fate of the state budget largely will depend on this month’s revenues.

But he’s counting on more cuts to the twice-trimmed state budget.

"I would expect that there will be other rounds of, hopefully, very targeted-type cuts," Cagle said.

Cagle, who spoke to the Gainesville Rotary Club on Monday, said future cuts to state departments likely will be handled administratively, negating the need for a specially called session of the General Assembly.

The lieutenant governor said he hopes the cuts will be handled differently than the last round, which called for each state agency to prepare a budget that was 5 percent smaller.

"It’s very difficult to do across-the-board cuts," Cagle said.

Cagle said he disagreed with Gov. Sonny Perdue’s estimate of a $900 million shortfall in state revenues. Instead, Cagle said he believed the state’s budget likely would need anywhere from $1.2 billion to $1.5 billion in cuts.

But Cagle said the most predominant issue in the state is water supply.

He told Rotarians on Monday that the state needs to be proactive in seeking new water resources and protecting the current supply.

Cagle supports Perdue’s plan to appeal a July ruling by Judge Paul Magnuson that reduces the state’s ability to pull water from Lake Lanier by approximately 95 percent. Cagle said the state also should continue to improve conservation plans, continue negotiations between Alabama and Florida officials and work with federal legislators to resolve the tri-state water wars.

Cagle said the ruling will affect water quality in the Chattahoochee River below Atlanta and the state’s ability to generate jobs.

"This is not an issue about science; this is an issue about economic development," Cagle said. "... We can’t sit idle as the clock continues to tick."

Cagle also said he has nearly recovered from his spinal surgery, and he’s beefing his team up for another election campaign.

"The reality is we are running — I don’t know who’s going to be the next governor, but I can tell you who’s going to be the next lieutenant governor," Cagle said. "We’re running to win, and we’re going to be very focused in that effort."

Cagle says he’s endured three days of physical therapy each week since his surgery in April and spent more than two months at home. The procedure, which Cagle cited as his reason for dropping out of the 2010 governor’s race, repaired a neck and spinal injury that Cagle said had caused him shoulder pain for years.

"As far as being 100 percent complete, they say it takes a full year for those bones to fully mend. But in terms of my ability to do virtually anything I want to, I’m pretty well to do that now so I’ll begin getting back to the golf course and doing a lot of the things that I’ve done in the past," Cagle said.