By Matthew S.L. Cate
ATLANTA Georgia taxpayers would have to foot the bill for a special session on budget matters if Republican legislative leaders make good on threats made to each other this morning.
A dispute over whether the General Assembly should tell other branches of government and state departments how to use state funds, as opposed to telling them how much they will get, is at the heart of the gridlock.
Rumors of the need for a special session and budget gridlock are not uncommon late in the legislative session, but leaders dont often take part in them from their chamber speaking wells.
The top Republicans in the House and Senate took rare turns in their respective chambers today to explain the dispute to their colleagues. They warned that if the other side didnt compromise lawmakers would be called to a special session to work out the disagreement over the proposed $18.7 billion state budget.
Today is the second-to-last working day of the session. Thursday will be the 40th day, which is the constitutionally mandated limit on working days lawmakers are allowed.
This dispute is about a power play and putting power and politics over the people of this state, said House Speaker Glenn Richardson, R-Hiram. Were about 24 hours away from it being impossible from getting a budget.
The House opposes the Senates budget approach, which outlines how state agencies are to spend their money.
Soon after his remarks, Senate President Pro Tem Eric Johnson, R-Savannah, also threatened a special session and cited arrogance.
We have a constitutional right to determine their funding and where it should go, he said.
A few minutes after the speeches, the House voted to rework an entire Senate bill to allow the unregulated sale of home-created food items.
We might not be able to pass an $18 billion budget, but we can take care of fried pies, Speaker Richardson said.
E-mail Matthew S.L. Cate at firstname.lastname@example.org