I did catch Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle on some other issues. See, particularly, his comments about January's revenue numbers, him declining to be specific about what reserves he'd like to tap to help balance the budget, and the question of furloughs at the Capitol itself.
The last question was for my buddy Nick, an avid Lucid Idiocy reader and currently furloughed state employee, who has been wanting to know whether political jobs will also face furloughs.
ME: Where are we on HTRG negotiations and DOT / transportation governance negotiations?
CAGLE: Both issues continue to be moving along. We have some strategic meetings today to talk about both of those issues, the speaker and myself, and we'll also have a chance to visit with the governor, too. I would say progress is going well. The revenue numbers for January appear to be much lower than anticipated and we're having to take that into consideration through all of this. But I still remain steadfast that we have to fund the HTRG for 2009.
ME: There appears to be some room between what you've said about reserves and what the governor's office has said about reserves. They basically say "We raided it, ain't nothing left," and you have indicated there's more. Can you be specific about what reserves you're talking about?
CAGLE: Obviously I can't specifically tell you at this juncture. But we're going to have to be very creative, there's no doubt. And we can't raid certain reserves in a way that is going to leave a significant hole for the 2010 budget. ... But I will tell you that you're going to see additional furloughs of state employees. It's going to be fair, across the board. But that will be required along with finding some one-time money in the reserves.
ME: Will we see furlough of folks who work in the Capitol? Your staff, the governor's staff? Those kind of political jobs.
CAGLE: Well, the legislature will be furloughed after the 40 day session.
ME: Thank God.
CAGLE: Exactly. The legislature, along with the governor's budget, has taken the same cuts that many of the other agencies have. Of course, those are very, very small in comparison to the overall venture. Medicaid, education, the Board of Regents... those are the real big numbers.