Georgia: Shared Power and Fiscal Conservatives 1
THOMAS P. LAUTH
The executive budget has been the centerpiece of efforts to strengthen the powers of state governors. Compared with most other states, the budget powers of the governor of Georgia are strong. However, the General Assembly is an influential counterbalance in the state's budgetary process. This chapter delineates the formal budget powers of Georgia's governor and examines their influence on appropriations outcomes. It also assesses the impact of the state's economy and the fiscal attitudes of policymakers on appropriations decisions.
Strong formal budget powers exist whenever a governor has direct responsibility for budget preparation and execution, the central budget office is located in the office of the governor, and the governor has authority to line-item veto legislative appropriations. Unrestricted tenure in office and the ability to appoint all or most heads of executive branch agencies are formal powers that may indirectly have ramifications for budgetmaking. By these standards, the formal budget powers of the Georgia governor are relatively strong.
Georgia is one of forty-seven states in which responsibility for budget preparation rests with the governor rather than a budget commission or board. This places the governor in the proactive position of presenting the agenda of state spending for the coming fiscal period, while the legislature is, for the most part, in the position of reacting to the governor's budget initiatives.
The Georgia Office of Planning and Budget (OPB) is a staff agency located within the governor's office, rather than within a Department of Finance or Administration as is the case in many other states. Its location facilitates access to the governor for top-level budget officials, and increases the likelihood that budget analysts understand and identify with the governor's programs. Its role in reviewing agency budget requests contributes to the centralization of budget decisions in the office of the governor.