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Democrats Could Help With Money From Washington

ATLANTA (AP) - Georgia officials working to cut $2 billion in
spending from the state's recession ravaged state budget are
drooling over a federal stimulus plan loaded with cash.

Working closely with President-elect Barack Obama, Democrats in
the U.S. House this week unveiled an $825 billion plan that would
pump money into Medicaid, school districts and road projects.

Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, a Republican, says he isn't counting
on any federal funds to balance Georgia's budget. The package's
fate on Capitol Hill is far from certain. Still, state officials
are keeping a close eye on Washington, just in case.

While conservative Republicans nationally and in Georgia have
expressed ambivalence about the costly stimulus plan, Democrats are
by and large on board. And after years out in the cold, it could
fall to state's out-of-power Democrats to flex their political
muscle in Washington with the incoming Obama administration.

At the state Capitol, Democrats say it's a nice change of pace
in a Legislature dominated by Republicans since 2004.

State Sen. Doug Stoner of Smyrna, an early Obama backer, says
several of his more pragmatic Republican colleagues have approached
him. He says there is definitely a sense that "we'll be more in
demand."

Some Republicans were openly skeptical of the Democrats' claims
of newfound clout.

Perdue's former communications director Dan McLagan, a GOP
consultant, says "none of these Democratic back benchers has
actually met with the president-elect and a lot of them backed the
other candidates."

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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