Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Day 25- March 3, 2009

Tonight on Lawmakers, Governor Sonny Perdue announces an additional $1.6 billion cut to the fiscal year 2010 budget; the House passes their version of a statewide transportation plan, the 2020 Transportation Act; the Senate Appropriations Committee passes the fiscal year 2009 amended budget with $1 billion in cuts to State agencies; Senate Ethics Chair Eric Johnson announces a measure to require state legislators to keep current on their state income taxes; and the Georgia Music and Sports Halls of Fame fight to remain open, Josephine Bennett of GPB Radio’s WMUM in Macon reports.

Governor Sonny Perdue held a press conference this afternoon to announce $1.6 billion in cuts to bring FY 2010 budget to a total of $18.5 billion– that's down from the FY 2009 budget total of $20.2 billion. He says that Georgia will accept $150 million in federal stimulus dollars to boost the unemployment trust fund as well as $1.1 billion in new federal dollars for education, Medicaid, public safety and social services. State employees will be expected to pay 5% more in health insurance costs. The Governor also said that any state employee furlough decisions will be made by agency heads.

The House has passed its version of a statewide transportation plan, The Georgia 2020 Transportation Act establishes a 1% statewide sales tax which will fund a transportation trust fund that will overseen by a committee of 11 members. The legislation, House Bill 277 and House Resolution 206, is sponsored by House Transportation Chair Vance Smith. House Democratic Leader, Representative DuBose Porter, had a few amendments that were addressed in an impromptu Rules Committee meeting: one that a member of the minority be appointed to the oversight committee; one that DOT remain the agency to receive federal funds until the agency is set up and another to insure one cent of the four cent motor fuel tax be designated for transportation projects. Lawmakers’ Valarie Edwards reports.

The Georgia Commissioner of Revenue says that when it comes to state income taxes, some legislators aren’t paying up. Although unnamed, a report generated by the Revenue Department says 19 state legislators are delinquent on their taxes. Senator Eric Johnson, Chair of the Senate Ethics Committee, is introducing a measure that would require all Senators to be current on their State income taxes. Representative Joe Wilkinson, Chair of the House Ethics Committee, says that the House is also looking to take action. Wilkinson is consulting with legislative counsel to explore options. Lawmakers' Brittany Evans has that story.

In the last few years the Georgia Sports and Music Halls of Fame have seen their budgets cut. During the last legislative session, several lawmakers called for them to be self–sufficient. Now museum officials are worried they might not have time to make that happen. Josephine Bennett of GPB Radio station WMUM in Macon has more on the fight to keep the two museums open.

Representative Ron Stephens’ proposed one dollar excise tax increase for a pack of cigarettes has yet to go before a full committee. Today at the Capitol members of Faith United Against Tobacco urged legislators to take action on House Bill 39, also known as the “Pass the Buck” legislation. The additional tax would fund tobacco prevention and health care.

A measure that would require testing for and treatment of HIV for incarcerated individuals received a do-pass recommendation from the Senate State Institutions and Property Committee today. Senator Kasim Reed is the sponsor of Senate Bill 64.

All that and more tonight on Lawmakers at 7 PM.

Lawmakers repeats on GPB Radio at 8 PM tonight and tomorrow morning on GPB television at 5:30 AM. You can also watch a repeat of Lawmakers tomorrow morning on GPB Knowledge at 7 AM. GPB Knowledge is available to those with digital television receivers at .3 of your local GPB transmitter, for example 20.3 in Augusta, or 8.3 in Atlanta.