Local Impact of the Georgia Budget

Monday Georgia lawmakers will head into a special session to decide what road to take with the 2005 state budget. Disagreements continue between Gov. Perdue and state legislators over the one bill that could get the budget out of the red.

The Reverend Howard Clemens is going through a tough time, a split with his wife, but he says if the money he spends on court fees can go towards balancing Georgia's budget, he'll feel a little better.

"It will be very expensive to get a divorce, being that she stays in Louisiana and I stay here, but I think if the fees go up, I think it will be a win-win situation because the government will be making money back," says Clemens.

A bill tacking extra fines and fees onto court cases to provide $57 million towards the 2005 state budget is the main reason state lawmakers are heading into special session on Monday. Gov. Perdue and other legislators disagree on who should control the allocation of the money and the bill must be passed to balance the budget.

Local lawmakers say their counties may not see any of the money from these fines. They say it will most likely go straight to the state for indigent defense, and not all area residents think that's fair.

"It's nice to help those in need of some assistance, but it could come from other places. I don't think it should come from my pocket," says Mark Millner, who disagrees with the rise in fees.

Currently, money for indigent defense comes from the counties themselves. Thomas County officials say the bill would help with local budgeting as long as other area programs don't get cut in the process.

Georgia's supplemental budget has already been agreed on. Once the 2005 budget is set, it will go into effect July 1.