Georgia will lose $27 million for Head Start, a comprehensive early childhood development program for at-risk children, if the proposed U.S. House budget bill is signed into law, according to a new report by the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute. The cut represents 3,900 seats in the program. The 878,000 low-income kids enrolled in Education for the Disadvantaged programs across Georgia will also lose big. Those programs will face a $40 million reduction in federal funds. Some programs will lose federal funds altogether. YouthBuild, a program that gives construction jobs and education to disadvantaged teens is zeroed out in the proposed bill.
The Department of Juvenile Justice will present new budget cuts at a board meeting Thursday morning. Governor Perdue has ordered every state agency to come up with scenarios detailing 4%, 6% and 8% cuts. On the eve of the big reveal, the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute says the state tax structure dates back to the Great Depression and that’s why we’re in trouble. Here’s an excerpt from Advancing Georgia’s 1930s Tax System to the Modern Day:
“Georgia will spend more than 80 percent of the FY 2011 state budget on education, healthcare, and public safety; therefore, the size of the state budget is overwhelmingly driven by these three policy areas Georgia’s overall population, as well as the specific populations that state government serves, such as school children and prisoners, will continue to increase dramatically. In addition to meeting the needs of sheer increased numbers of Georgians, the state has urgent existing needs, such as bringing our education, mental health, and transportation systems, among others, up to national standard”
The report recommends changes that include:
Taxing more personal services, while lowering the sales tax
Updating cigarette and motor fuel excise tax rates
Modernizing personal income tax brackets, rates, and standard deductions
Closing corporate tax loopholes
Juvenile Court Judge Timothy Pape has a disturbing prediction for Georgia. He expects to see many – and possibly more – of the state’s children getting into trouble or falling victim to abuse, but less being done about it. His daunting forecast is, in large part, inspired by recent reports that yet another massive state budget shortfall is forcing state agencies to slash already stretched budgets even further for the 2011 financial year. According to the Georgia Budget & Policy Institute at Georgia State University, as the state begins its 2011 fiscal year it is facing a potential budget shortfall of between $413 million and $613 million. This shortfall is in addition to the $2.5 billion in budget cuts already implemented since the 2009 financial year.