The cost of saving the Georgia Archives can be counted on one hand — as in five, the number of archives employees who. as of Nov. 1, will be laid off from their jobs.
A day after announcing a deal with Gov. Nathan Deal that will restore $125,000 to his budget, enough money to keep the Archives open until at least the middle of next year, Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp acknowledged Friday he will bring back only two of the seven employees laid off under his original closure plan.
In a statement to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Kemp said he faced a horrible choice.
Over the last five years, “the office of the Secretary of State has witnessed an $8.3 million (26 percent) reduction in the budget and the reduction of 138 (39 percent) jobs,” Kemp said. “Every time we have to let employees go due to budget cuts, the decisions for me are gut-wrenching and painful but, unfortunately, necessary.”
The emergency move by Deal to restore money to Kemp’s budget came two weeks before budget cuts were to force the Archives’ closure as a full-time facility except by appointment. It was a muted victory for Archives supporters, who lauded the decision but were left questioning what would happen to the Archive’s employees set to lose their jobs.
Kemp’s answer Friday left them disappointed, although supporters vowed to push for greater funding of the Archives during the Legislature’s next session beginning in January. Three other Archives employees also will keep their jobs and were not expected to lose them to begin with.
Supporters have praised Deal, who also plans to ask state lawmakers to transfer oversight of the Archives from the secretary of state’s office to the University System of Georgia. Kemp said Friday such a move “will begin a rebirth of this valuable and critical state resource.”
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