State Rep. Randy Nix doesn’t expect this year’s General Assembly to be affected by Gov. Sonny Perdue’s “lame duck” status, but does expect the budget negotiations - and education funding - to set the tone for legislators.
“The budget is without question the big issue for the session - revenues continue to decline year over year,” the LaGrange Republican said. “While significant cuts have already been made, it may be necessary to cut another $1 billion. Passing a balanced budget is the only real requirement for a legislative session.”
Education funding promises to figure large into the negotiations.
“While education was protected as much as possible early in the cuts, there is no way to avoid additional cuts,” he said. “Education accounts for close to 50 percent of the states’s budget so any meaningful cuts must include education. We had an education committee meeting and several bills were introduced to relax state requirements and allow local boards maximum flexibility in their spending to better handle the reduced funding. Right now, there doesn’t seem to be any light at the end of the tunnel; we are looking at making these adjustments for three years with the thought that there may not be any significant revenue growth for several years.”
Nix said he expects transportation to be as big an issue as it always is and several calls for ethics reform to come up this year.
As a member of the House Environment and Natural Resources Committee, Nix said he’ll be watching the negotiations between Perdue and the governors of Florida and Alabama closely. The trio has recommitted to working out the decades-long “water wars” in light of a federal judge’s summer ruling that Lake Lanier can’t be used as a drinking water source for metro Atlanta.
Nix says he’s heard “positive comments” about the talks so far.
“There is an expectation that the legislature will be involved. Gov. Perdue reportedly even mentioned the possibility of a special session to deal with water if necessary,” Nix said. “I don’t know of any specific legislation that has been dropped as of yet pertaining to water, but I do know that the Natural Resources and Environment Committee will be getting updates in some of our first meetings for the session. Most of the action at this point is outside of the legislative process.”
— To contact Nix or keep up with his committee assignments and issues, visit http://www.legis.ga.gov /legis/2009_10/house/bios/nixRandy/nixRandy.htm or e-mail randy.nix @house.ga. gov. Office phone is (404) 656-0177 or send mail to P.O. Box 991, LaGrange, GA 30241.
Jennifer Shrader can be reached at jshrader@ lagrangenews.com or (706) 884-7311, Ext. 236.