The Georgia General Assembly gaveled in for Day One of the 2020 legislative session Monday. The day began with a pair of remembrances for lawmakers who recently passed away, and started the clock on a contentious few months of debate over funding the state budget as revenues lag.
Republican State Sen. Greg Kirk (R-Americus) died in late December from bile duct cancer and Republican House Rules Chairman Jay Powell (R-Camilla) died unexpectedly at a leadership retreat in November.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms spoke to the Senate, tenor Timothy Miller sang for the House chamber and the calendar for the first 14 working days was set.
The 2020 session falls in an election year that will see every state and federal lawmaker on the ballot, so it is likely that committee hearings and floor debates could deviate from the expected plans as Republicans and Democrats alike try to hold onto their seats.
Republican Gov. Brian Kemp has ordered most state agencies to cut their budgets in anticipation of lower state revenues, even as agencies and lawmakers push back. The legislature could also further lower the state’s revenue this year through an additional cut to the state income tax rate.
Georgia’s record-setting $27.5 billion budget last year included a large pay raise for teachers and other school employees and fully funded the state’s education system, among other things.