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    Ethics budget takes 30% hit for 2009-10

     

    The State Ethics Commission will lose about 30 percent of its current funding in the 2010 state budget passed Friday.

    The Georgia House and Senate compromised on a $1.2 million budget for the agency in negotiations on the last day of the 2009 legislative session. The House last week slashed spending on ethics enforcement to $672,000 next year. The Senate countered with $1.5 million, the amount that Gov. Sonny Perdue had recommended.

    Perdue had already proposed trimming the commission’s budget — currently $1.7 million — by about $200,000 by eliminating positions, deferring pay raises and reducing personnel benefits.

    No word yet on what this might mean for staffing for the commission, which enforces campaign finance laws for elected officials in Georgia, including state legislators, The new budget year begins July 1.

    Update: The Senate Appropriations Committee restored the 2009-10 budget for the State Ethics Commission to $1.5 million, the level recommended by Gov. Sonny Perdue.

    The restored funding goes to the full Senate for a vote Wednesday, then to a conference committee with the House.

    March 27, 2009 — A Georgia Senate committee is expected to vote Monday on a 2010 budget that could slash funding for enforcement of ethics laws by 60 percent.

    The Georgia House has recommended a $672,000 operating budget for the State Ethics Commission – 60 percent less than its $1.7 million budget this year.

    The reduced funding, if not restored, could force layoffs of half or more of the staff of the commission, which enforces laws regulating campaign finance and public disclosure of elected officials’ personal finances.

    The cuts that would turn back the clock on funding for ethics enforcement below the $759,000 it spent in 2003-04. At that time, the commission focused its resources on monitoring filings of campaign paperwork and gave little attention to investigations.

    A budget tracking sheet shows Gov. Sonny Perdue’s recommendation for FY 2010 – a smidgen under $1.5 million – was reduced to just $750,000 when the House sent its version of the budget to the Senate last week.

    Of that, the House directed $77,000 toward office rent due another state agency, leaving $672,000 to operate the commssion next year.

    Perdue had already trimmed the commission’s 2009-10 budget by 16 percent by deferring pay raises, reducing personnel benefits and eliminating positions.

    The Senate Appropriations Committee is expected to meet at 11 a.m. Monday to vote on its version of the budget. The meeting in Room 341 at the Capitol is open to the public.

     

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