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Perdue wont wait for Washington aid
Governor plans to propose new infrastructure projects in 2009 to create new jobs
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Gov. Sonny Perdue said Tuesday that he is not basing his plans for the state in 2009 on mere prospects of help from the Obama administration.

"I’m hopeful," Perdue said, "But I don’t intend to govern Georgia based on what’s coming from Washington. I think we better be smart in our business decisions, and we’ll have a balanced budget before any stimulus package is announced."

Perdue, along with other governors, met with the president-elect last week in Philadelphia. He said he hopes any offer of federal help will be the right plan.

"Hopefully, the president-elect and Congress will create a program that invests, that just doesn’t throw money at poor decisions and invest in projects that have a real return for the future."

Perdue was in Gainesville for a ribbon-cutting for Pollo Campero, the first Georgia location of a Guatemalan chicken chain.

Later in the day, Perdue told a meeting of legislators in Athens he’ll propose a slate of new infrastructure projects to help lift Georgia out of the economic doldrums by putting people to work.

Perdue said he would put forward "an aggressive bond package" to fund things such as road construction and new school facilities.

While the recession has left Georgia in a cash-flow crunch, Perdue said Tuesday that the state still leverages a solid balance sheet and AAA bond rating.

"We’re cash poor, but we have good credit," Perdue told reporters following an address to state legislators gathered for a training session at the University of Georgia.

Perdue offered few specifics, including how much additional debt he would propose. For the past several years, the budget has included about $1 billion in bond funding.

Perdue’s comments came as the state released new revenue numbers that show tax collections ticked up in November, spurred by an increase in individual income taxes.

The governor said Tuesday he was "pleasantly surprised" by the 1.4 percent increase from the same month last year. But he warned that some economists still are predicting the economy will get worse before it gets better.

Revenues still are down 1.3 percent overall for the fiscal year that began July 1.

Individual income tax collections rose 3.8 percent in the November figures. But sales taxes continued to lag, suggesting consumers are keeping a tight leash on their money. Collections were down 0.5 percent from the same month the year before.

Georgia is facing a budget deficit that is expected to top $1.6 billion. Perdue has ordered state agencies to cut spending by at least 6 percent, but his office said deeper cuts likely are needed if the economy worsens.

Perdue said Tuesday he’s been "doing some laparoscopic surgery on the budget of Georgia." The governor has been mired in state budget meetings in recent days preparing for the legislative session that starts Jan. 12.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.