Speaker: Bigger cuts coming, and maybe a special session

Speaker of the House Glenn Richardson offered dire warnings of massive state budget cuts and broached the possibility of a special legislative session to make them this afternoon.

State revenues are down and may not recover. Unemployment is at a high. The state budget is floating largely on federal stimulus dollars, spending state reserves and employee furloughs.

Cuts that have already been made are "the tip of the iceberg," Richardson said.

"I'm afraid this won't be our last visit to this building this calender year," said Richardson, R-Hiram. "I'm afraid this economy is dragging down faster than we can even calculate. I'm afraid it's coming apart at the seams."

Some have complained about state budget cuts, particularly changes to the homeowner's tax relief grant program. That change is likely to raise property taxes across the state this fall, or force local governments to make their own hefty cuts.

Teachers are looking at possible furlough days, which Georgia Department of Human Resources employees are already taking.

Richardson said some teachers told him they couldn't stand that.

His reply: "We'll could you stand a layoff? ... Which would you rather do? Have six days off or have have 6,000 teachers off?"

"We're not to that today," Richardson said. "But we're not far from it. You better start thinking."