ATLANTA - As budget hearings continue this week at the State Capitol, Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp says more cuts to his office will mean a continued decline in customer service to Georgians he serves.
All state departments, with the exception of education, have been ordered by Gov. Nathan Deal to slash their budgets an additional 3 percent due to rising health care costs and lower tax revenues.
Kemp is facing a nearly $1 million cut for the remainder of this fiscal year and a $4 million cut for FY 2014.
“I think our message to lawmakers is ‘Your constituents are not getting good customer service and it’s not because we don’t have good people, it’s because we have too much work to do and not enough people’,” he tells News/Talk WSB.
His office oversees 500,000 licensed Georgians, 700,000 corporations, and has seen 300,000 newly registered voters this year.
As a consequence of Georgia’s new immigration reform law, his staff must now verify the citizenship of every business owner before a license can be granted or renewed. He is seeking the help of Rep. Dustin Hightower (R-Carrollton) who is sponsoring legislation to require the documentation be presented only one time for the same public benefit.
Kemp is frustrated that his office can’t do more to speed up the process.
“We’ve done several consolidations to make us more efficient, we’ve moved to technology on renewals and licensing and being able to register a corporation,” he says. “We’re just out of options to get more efficient.”
He says those who seek his office’s services will be the ones who suffer.
“We used to have peak times when we had poor customer service and long wait times. Now that’s almost daily,” says Kemp.