Gov. Nathan Deal has rebuilt state reserves. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

Georgia reserves could run state for more than a month, report says

Georgia has rebuilt its reserves to the point where it could run the government just on its “rainy day” fund for more than a month, according to a new report by The Pew Charitable Trusts.

The report says Georgia had enough reserves in 2016 to run the state for 33.9 days, the highest figure in the Southeast and 11th nationally. Wyoming and Alaska had large enough “rainy day” funds to run their governments for more than a year, but some states have little or no reserves.

The report said 26 states ended fiscal 2016 with more in reserves than before the Great Recession. Such reserves are important because they typically are used to fill in financial holes that develop when recessions hit.

During the Great Recession, the state slashed jobs and furloughed teachers and staff, but then-Gov. Sonny Perdue still had to drain reserves to keep the government afloat.

His successor, Gov. Nathan Deal, vowed to leave the next governor at least a $2 billion rainy day reserve when he leaves office in 2019. The governor met that last summer, and he has now reset his goal to $2.5 billion.

Officials say big reserves also are important in helping the state keep its AAA bond rating, which allows the government to borrow money at lower interest rates. That can save the state millions of dollars a year in interest payments.

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