A month before the General Assembly reconvenes in Atlanta, Shafer focused on budget talks, as leaders are expected a rushed session in a big election year.
While economic times forced $5 billion in budget cuts over recent years, Shafer said he doesn’t expect much trimming in 2014, but after success in a decade-long struggle to have the state tackle zero-based budgeting, the Republican leader said he expects legislators to delve into the details of spending.
“I believe government is better and more efficient now than it was when we were spending more money,” Shafer said of belt-tightening the past five years.
His zero-based budgeting approach, he explained, will mean leaders will more closely examine an eighth of the nearly $20 billion state budget each year, instead of simply approving continuation spending.
“That piece of legislation is something of which I am immensely proud and that will help us be a more efficent state moving forward,” Shafer said.
A proponent of shifting state revenues from sales taxes as opposed to the current income tax, Shafer said Georgia would be more competitive in economic development, especially compared to Tennessee and Florida, which have no state income tax. But the fight, he said, is more likely to occur after next year’s governor’s race is determined.
Shafer said he believes the government’s dollars need to be redirected to infrastructure and other needs, while allowing businesses and individuals to succeed.