The agreement reached by a conference committee of House and Senate lawmakers now heads back to the chambers for a floor vote. It would spend roughly $39 billion in state and federal money during the financial year starting in July. The budget plan totals roughly $19 billion when counting only funds raised by the state government.
That spending plan would steer roughly $100 million of no-strings-attaching funding that Georgia received from a national settlement from mortgage lenders to fund two state programs paying for grants and local infrastructure projects. The money was part of the proceeds that Georgia received from a multistate settlement addressing accusations that lenders abused the mortgage process, including processing foreclosures without verifying legal documents and using fake signatures to hurry foreclosures.
“This move will put Georgia on the map for many businesses that previously would not have considered moving here and bringing innumerable jobs to Georgia workers,” said Deal, who recommended using the new revenue for infrastructure funding in a letter to lawmakers.
Under the settlement, roughly $700 million of the $800 million settlement with Georgia will go to homeowners affected by the financial crisis. But state leaders have discretion over how spend the remaining funds, roughly $100 million. Attorney General Sam Olens earlier told lawmakers that the discretionary money was supposed to be spent on efforts that prevent foreclosures, ease the housing crisis and target mortgage fraud. Olens spokeswoman Lauren Kane declined to comment.
State leaders have said that funding infrastructure projects — for example, promising to build a better road to the site of a proposed factory — encourages employers to relocate or expand in Georgia. The state has a 9.1 percent unemployment rate.
“It just helps land some of the deals,” said England, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. “That money will be used to try to land more companies and bring more jobs.”
Lawmakers are expected to vote on the budget deal before adjourning for the year on Thursday.