ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia State Rep. Matt Hatchett, a Dublin Republican, was named Wednesday to lead the state House Appropriations Committee, a key role in writing the state’s $58 billion budget.

New committee assignments will be made after the newly elected General Assembly convenes on Jan. 9, but Hatchett’s appointment was announced early by House Speaker Jan Jones, who said Hatchett needed to start working with staff to prepare. Budget hearings typically start the second week of the legislative session.

Jones became speaker after David Ralston died last month. The appropriations post is being vacated by Rep. Terry England, an Auburn Republican who did not run for reelection.

The likelihood of Hatchett’s appointment was telegraphed when he didn’t run for a House Republican leadership position. He’s the outgoing whip of the Republican caucus. Hatchett was one of the first top Republicans to get behind Jon Burns’ candidacy to become speaker in January. The House GOP, which will hold a majority of 101 out of 180 seats, nominated Burns last month to become the next speaker. The Newington Republican is likely to be elected on Jan. 9.

Lawmakers each year amend the current budget then write a new one for the next budget year. They’ll have an accumulated $6.6 billion surplus to spend on programs or give back to taxpayers. This year’s budget is on track to run an additional surplus. Gov. Brian Kemp promised to give back a $1 billion income tax rebate and $1 billion in property tax breaks during the Republican’s reelection campaign. But plans for the rest of the money remain unclear.