Kemp to Georgia agencies: Send me budget cut plans, not the General Assembly

Gov. Brian Kemp

Gov. Brian Kemp

Gov. Brian Kemp sent state agencies Thursday a memo making it clear that he wants them to provide him plans to cut their budgets and a chance to formally review them before the General Assembly gets involved.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Monday that Kemp was trying to head off legislative requests for budget plans and joint House-Senate budget hearings planned for later this month.

Typically, administrations receive spending requests for the current and upcoming year in the fall, meet with agency directors and then put together spending plans the governor submits to lawmakers during the first week of the General Assembly session in January.

But state lawmakers were surprised last month by Kemp's announcement that -- due to the potential for an iffy economy next year and the need to save money for his priorities--agencies would have to cut 4 percent from their budgets this year and 6 percent next year.

The AJC reported Wednesday that the agency that runs food stamps, child abuse investigations and other social service programs had offered up $46 million in cuts, including hundreds of job reductions.

House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, ordered his appropriations committee to begin working on the budget cut plans this fall, but the Kemp administration doesn't want interference from the General Assembly in what it sees as the governor's responsibility.

In the memo, Kemp’s executive counsel David Dove wrote, “Your submission of budget requests to the governor is required before any submissions are made to the General Assembly.” He said under law, the governor is also supposed to hear from agencies about their plans before lawmakers get involved.

The law, Dove wrote, “contemplates that no submission is made to the General Assembly until it is organized for a legislative session.”

The next session starts in January.

Dove’s memo continues, “It has come to the governor’s attention that some agencies may not be following these requirements.”

House Appropriations Chairman Terry England, R-Auburn, said earlier this week that he hoped to hear from agency directors at the joint hearings later this month. The Kemp administration said it  will urge agencies not to take part.