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UPDATE: Sports, music halls fare better with Senate

The Georgia Senate's budget-writing committee restored most of the funding recommended by the governor for the Georgia music and sports halls of fame, but agreed with the House of Representatives that the institutions must begin to support themselves.

The Senate panel voted today to cut $100,000 from the sports hall's $811,230 state subsidy, and $75,000 from the $793,944 given last year to the music museum. The Senate also added $100,000 in new funds for the restoration of the Big House, historic home of the Allman Brothers Band during their Macon years, and $150,000 for the music hall's induction ceremony.

The Senate budget calls for both museums to lose state funding by 2013, compared to 2010 in the House version.

"There really is strong feeling in both bodies that these institutions should be self-supporting," said Sen. Cecil Staton, R-Macon. "This gives us some time to figure out what to do about it."A House-Senate conference committee must hammer out differences before the legislative session ends. It is unclear how much of a funding hit the two halls of fame ultimately will take in the final state budget.

The Senate Appropriations Committee also agreed with the House to halve the governor's recommended funding to relocate the Department of Corrections headquarters and training academy to the former Tift College campus in Forsyth. The Senate went along with the House recommendation to sell $15.6 million in bonds for the project.

Staton said that amount would allow the move to go forward without delays and could be followed up with more funds next year.

Highlights of the changes the Senate made to the House version of the budget include a $17 million reduction in estimated revenue, and restoration of $20 million in House cuts to the departments of corrections and human resources. The Senate budget would give state employees and teachers a 2.5 percent pay raise.

The Senate also restored money for ports, international marketing, and tourism advertising.

The full Senate is expected to vote on the $21.2 billion fiscal 2009 budget on Friday. The final day of the session is expected to be held soon after April 4.

For more on this story, return to macon.com and read Friday's Telegraph.

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