Budget cuts behind State Archives’ limited access
by Mark Andrews
Sep 18, 2012 | 897 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Secretary of State Brian Kemp announced last week the State Archives in Morrow will open by appointment only and employees will be laid off because of budget cuts sought by Gov. Nathan Deal.

“Outside of education funding, everything is on the table,” governor’s office spokesperson Brian Robinson said, as reported by the Associated Press. “All agency heads face tough decisions, but it’s part of what we have to do to protect and best serve Georgia’s taxpayers.”

The move takes effect Nov. 1. The facility houses a range of historical records used by amateur and professional historians, genealogy researchers, librarians, students, attorneys, instructors and others.

“It’s a very sad thing when something like this happens because it cuts people off from being able to access their personal history as well as the history of the state and of our government,” Bartow County Library System Youth Services Librarian Thomas Shalin said. “If you’re trying to track down your family tree or if you’re trying to find out a vital birth record or a vital death record, it will be there in the State Archives.

“It basically records the comings and goings of the historical events of Georgia, and also, if somebody is researching something particularly important, there’s no other way for them to access [that information].”

The secretary did not say how many state employees will be let go or when their jobs will end. Because state law gives Kemp discretionary control over his budget, the layoffs are not subject to any civil service review.

Kemp said he believes the moves will make Georgia the only state in the country without an accessible archive that has regular hours.

Deal has ordered every state office to reduce spending by 3 percent for the remainder of the current budget year, which runs through June 30, 2013, and again in the following year. That totals almost $733,000 for Kemp’s office.

Kemp emphasized that those aren’t the first reductions in recent years.

“These cuts do not eliminate excess in the agency, but require the agency to further reduce services to the citizens of Georgia,” he said.

Kemp said he sought to preserve other functions of his office: maintaining corporate records, running elections and overseeing professional licensing boards.

“We have tried to protect the services that the agency provides in support of putting people to work, starting small businesses, and providing public safety,” he said.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.