But the big question continues to be the budget, and how legislators are going to find $428 million in it to keep the homeowners tax relief grant, and another $240 million or so to keep from having to apply the governor's 1.6 percent tax on hospitals and insurance plans.
CLARIFICATION: The $240 million figure includes revenue from the governor's super speeders proposal. But that ain't real popular either.
With Perdue already cutting $2.2 billion from the FY 2009 budget, and tax increases off the table, according to Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, someone, somewhere has got to be putting together a list of cuts that will total significantly more than another half a billion when you look at 2009 and 2010 together.
From state Sen. Tommie Williams, the Senate Presient Pro Tem:
"We are working on lists. ... I can't give you that entire list now, but you can't get to $428 million without furloughs. And, frankly, many of the agencies are already furloughing. We will probably not double up on those, but those that are not being furloughed — obviously you can't furlough correctional officers, we can't furlough law enforcement, but we can furlough administration. So we'll look throughout the budget, and those we can furlough, we will. There are no good answers. But we'll look for any reserve funds that are available to us. And, frankly, any line item that doesn't have merit."That's similar to what Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle has said. One point to make: This idea that there is more money to get from various state reserve accounts is at odds with what Gov. Sonny Perdue has said.
Perdue promised legislators — repeatedly — during his state of the state speech that there is no extra money squirreled away in hidden reserves. And yet, Cagle and Williams both list reserves as a place to look for more funding.
Something to watch.