Georgia genealogists and history buffs can breathe easier now that state officials have said the Georgia State Archives will remain open two days a week.
Previously, Secretary of State Brian Kemp had planned to lay off workers and require appointments at the archives in Morrow starting Nov. 1. Kemp had said the moves were necessary to help his office trim more than $730,000 from its budget. Gov. Nathan Deal has asked most state agencies to identify budget cuts equal to 3 percent of their current funding for his proposed spending plan next year.
On Thursday, Deal and Kemp announced that $125,000 of a planned $733,000 cut in funding would be restored.
They said the move will allow the archives to keep its current hours of two days a week for the remainder of the budget year. It was not immediately known whether the planned layoffs would still occur.
“Georgia’s Archives are a showcase of our state’s rich history and a source of great pride,” Deal said in the announcement. “I worked quickly with my budget office and Secretary Kemp to ensure that Georgians can continue to come to Morrow to study and view the important artifacts kept there. I appreciate Secretary Kemp’s commitment to work with me to find a solution.”
Kemp said he had always hoped archives access could be maintained.
“I greatly appreciate Gov. Deal’s leadership and recognize the difficult decisions that had to be made in order to identify this funding,” he said. “He has proposed a plan that supports Archives not just this year, but for years to come.”
In making the announcement, the governor said he plans to ask state lawmakers to transfer oversight of the Georgia Archives from the Secretary of State’s Office to the University System of Georgia on July 1. That would give the archives additional staff members to be provided by the USG, officials said.
Local genealogy enthusiast Bob Conner had previously said any reduction in access could hurt people wanting to research their family history.
“I’ve been tracing my family tree for 50 years and after I found out I could get to the archives, I started going down there a lot,” he said. “There’s always information from our and other states that’s housed there. You just don’t find that elsewhere.”