Speaker David Ralston: “another year where you’re going to see budget cuts as opposed to adds.”

From the Marietta Daily Journal:

Georgia House Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) said he’s facing a $300 million hole as he heads into the coming legislative session in January.

Ralston, who was guest speaker at the Marietta Area Council meeting of the Cobb Chamber of Commerce at the Mansour Center on Wednesday, gave a talk about public service. The Journal caught up with him afterward to ask whether there is money to support the request by Cobb Schools Superintendent Michael Hinojosa, who wants the legislature to eliminate the austerity cuts to the school system, cuts state Sen. Lindsey Tippins (R-west Cobb) said have cost the system $425 million since 2003.

“I see a budget that as we are preparing to go into the session is over $300 million dollars short because of shortfall in Medicaid that’s due to the economic downtown, it’s due to population increases, and so when we go in with that big a hole I think that increasing funding is going to be very, very challenging in that environment,” Ralston said. “You know, there’s a lot of things that we would like to do, but we have to do the responsible thing and that’s balance the budget and do it without increasing taxes, so this is going to be another year where you’re going to see budget cuts as opposed to adds.”

Marietta attorney and lobbyist Chuck Clay, among those who attended the Chamber breakfast, said health care is “driving the train right into the ditch.”

“Every time we turn around there’s a larger gap in Medicaid, there’s a larger shortfall in the state health benefit plan,” Clay said. “Everywhere you turn, health care–related issues seem to be the tar we cannot extricate ourselves from or get our arms around in any coherent way, which is not unique to Georgia.”

Note to liberals everywhere: this is why we can’t afford to cover more people through magical free federal money.

Governor Nathan Deal: Georgia will not setup state healthcare exchange

From the press release:

Governor cites unknown costs, lack of flexibility in Obamacare’s federal regulations

Gov. Nathan Deal today informed the Obama administration that Georgia will not set up its own health care exchange, citing Obamacare’s one-size fits all approach and the high cost that the law places on states.

“I remain committed to common sense health care solutions that empower consumers to take responsibility for their own health, motivate the private sector and drive efficiencies for consumers, employers and governments alike,” Deal said. “I continue to hope that we might finally engage in a serious conversation about restoring meaningful flexibility to states around health care programs.”

Deal said the federal government needs to loosen regulations that restrict states’ options.

“We have no interest in spending our tax dollars on an exchange that is state-based in name only,” Deal said. “I would support a free market-based approach that could serve as a useful tool for Georgia’s small businesses, but federal guidelines forbid that. Instead, restrictions on what the exchanges can and can’t offer render meaningless the suggestion that Georgia could tailor an exchange that best fits the unique needs of its population.

“I have joined numerous other governors seeking guidance from the federal government on establishing exchanges. We’ve yet to receive serious answers to our questions. I will not commit Georgia taxpayers to a project with so many unknowns.”