Georgia senators to hold first live meetings since mid-March pandemic shutdown

The Georgia Senate will begin holding live Capitol meetings  next week for the first time since the General Assembly shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic in mid-March.

Senate budget subcommittees will begin meeting Tuesday at the Capitol, starting work on the fiscal 2021 budget that is expected to include more than $3.5 billion in spending cuts because the pandemic shutdown caused tax revenue to plummet.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Blake Tillery, R-Vidalia, said at least the chairmen of the subcommittees and  budget staffers would attend live. Other lawmakers could attend, or they could watch it, along with the public, on the statehouse stream. 

The General Assembly is set to return to the Capitol next month to finish its 2020 session. The top priority will be approving a state budget for fiscal 2021, which starts July 1.

Budget-writers have asked state agencies to send in plans to cut their budgets 14% because of the decline in state tax collections.

Lawmakers are still working on details for how they will hold a live legislative session at the Capitol while keeping the General Assembly safe from the coronavirus. At least five senators and one House member caught the virus. They all recovered.

The House and Senate appropriations committees have been holding joint, virtual meetings for a few weeks.

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