The Golden Dome of the Capitol of the State of Georgia
The Clock Tower of the Baldwin County Courthouse
in Milledgeville, Georgia
- State government in Georgia includes three branches of government: executive, legislative, and judicial. Unlike many other states, Georgia elects the heads of several major state agencies independently, including the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, the Commissioner of Insurance, and the Commissioner of Agriculture. The Lieutenant Governor is also elected independently and serves as president of the Senate.
- Georgia has used the executive budget process since the 1930s, giving governors centralized authority for the state budget. The governor has line item veto power, the authority to choose program funding, and a discretionary fund. The executive branch also sets the revenue projections for the fiscal year, which has a major impact on the budgeting process.
- The Georgia General Assembly is a bicameral legislature comprised of a Senate and House of Representatives. The legislature is made up of part-time legislators who are in session for 40 days beginning the second week of January each year.
- The lieutenant governor is elected every four years. As president of the Senate, he may cast a vote in the event of a tie. Although he is prohibited from sponsoring legislation, he has the power to make Senate committee assignments and designate committee chairmen.
- The Speaker is the House of Representatives' presiding officer and is elected every two years from among the members of the House. The Speaker's duties are outlined by the state constitution and include making all committee appointments and assigning chairmen to the 32 standing House committees. The Speaker follows the Lieutenant Governor in the succession to the Office of Governor.
- There are seven branches of the state judiciary, made up of five trial and two appellate courts. The five types of trial courts are the State Courts, Superior Courts, Juvenile Courts, Probate Courts and Magistrate Courts. The two appellate courts are the court of Appeals and the Supreme Court. Most judges are elected in nonpartisan elections, either statewide or by district.
- There are two forms of general-purpose local government in Georgia: counties and municipalities. Counties, as extensions of the state, receive their authority from the state and function as the administrative arm for the provision of general governmental services such as roads, courts and jails. Cities are incorporated entities, with their powers specified by a charter granted by the General Assembly.
- School districts in Georgia are separate government units with governing authority residing in the local board of education. County-wide school districts were established by law. The state also has city school districts created by special acts of the Georgia General Assembly before 1945. The law has prohibited the creation of more independent districts since 1945.
- Both cities and counties have broad home rule powers which allow them to conduct their affairs consistent with state law and the state constitution. A constitutional amendment passed in 1972 gave county governments the authority to provide municipal services.
- Georgia has 159 counties, 529 active municipalities, and nearly 800 registered local government authorities. The only state with more counties than Georgia is Texas. Three consolidated governments are included in the total number of counties: Columbus-Muscogee, Athens-Clarke, and Augusta-Richmond.
- Municipal governments in Georgia may be structured as a mayor-council, commission, or council-manager form of government. Counties may be organized using the traditional commission, sole commissioner, elected executive, commission-administrator, or commission-manager form of government. County governments in Georgia have anywhere from one to nine commissioners.
- According to the 2000 Census, county populations ranged from 2,077 in Taliaferro County to over 816,000 in Fulton County. There 32 counties (20% of 159 total) with populations under 10,000. Eight counties had fewer than 5,000 residents.
- Based on the 2000 Census, city populations ranged from the City of Atlanta with 416,474 to the City of Edge Hill with a population of 30. Slightly more than 47% (251) of Georgia's cities had populations under 1,000 in 2000.
- Local governments received more than $10.5 billion in revenues in 2000. Counties accounted for approximately $5.8 billion, municipalities received about $4.3 billion, and the consolidated governments received slightly more than $568 million.