Deal sets aside $4.3 million for Georgia Archives

Gov. Nathan Deal has taken the first step toward his pledge to keep the Georgia Archives open, setting aside $4.3 million for it in next year’s proposed budget.

The proposal would also fund 10 positions to the Morrow institution, which lost five employees last fall to layoffs.

Many more steps, however, remain. Supporters are pushing for an additional $1.5 million to expand public access to the state’s important and historical records dating to at least 1733, saying the additional money would reopen the archives from two to five days a week.

Deal’s proposed budget is for fiscal year 2014, which starts July 1.

The archives is currently staffed by five employees. Five other employees were laid off Nov. 1 as the archives’ current budget, at $4.9 million, was cut because of lagging state revenue.

The cuts nearly resulted in the archives’ closure, until a public outcry — including rallies at the Capitol and in Deal’s office — resulted in the governor agreeing to restore enough money to keep the archives open through June. He has proposed to then cut the archives’ ties to the Secretary of State’s Office and allow the University System of Georgia to take over its management.

A bill allowing that change is expected to be introduced later in this year’s legislative session, which started Jan. 14.

In the meantime, a nine-member task force working on behalf of the University System held its first meeting Jan. 9 to recommend how the transition should be handled. Led by Tim Hynes, the president of Clayton State University, the task force is expected to continue its work through early summer.

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