Last month the nation's governors asked Congress for a $500 billion aid package to help states make up some of the revenue losses they expect to see until the economy recovers. Some experts say the coronavirus recession could have a greater impact on state governments than the Great Recession.
England and Tillery sent a letter Monday to the state’s congressional delegation lending their voice of support for more federal aid.
“As the chairs of the appropriations committees of the Georgia General Assembly, we are formally requesting your support for the timely approval and disbursement of these funds to close the unprecedented gap in dollars required to maintain a conservative and lean government framework of services for the state of Georgia and our constituents,” the letter read.
“We share your regard for conservative spending practices, and despite the expected reductions in force and services for our people because of these painful budget cuts, we will do our part,” it read. “In turn, we respectfully ask that you advocate and support the appropriation of $500 billion in flexible state stabilization funds that are proportionately distributed to help offset greater upheaval and longer recovery in Georgia.”
They said key elements of Georgia’s economy, including Atlanta’s airport and the hospitality industry, have been crippled by the pandemic.
States, unlike the federal government, can’t spend more than they collects in taxes.
While state lawmakers aren't expected back until June to approve a budget, England's committee is holding its first virtual budget hearing Thursday.
Through Georgia's state's budget, taxpayers help educate 2 million children, provide health care to more than 2 million Georgians, build roads and bridges, manage parks, investigate crimes and incarcerate criminals, and regulate insurance firms and utilities, along with dozens of professions. The state issues driver's licenses and helps pay for nursing home care for the elderly.
The state is a major provider of basic medical coverage and treatment for mental health and drug addiction, and it helps fund public health programs that are fighting the pandemic.
Besides paying salaries, it also helps make sure that hundreds of thousands of ex-teachers, university staffers and state employees receive pensions and health care.