Greetings from under the Gold Dome!
Last Thursday, we successfully completed what we refer to as “budget week.” Legislators, state agencies and citizens from around the state gathered to learn what Gov. Kemp has in store for Georgia’s proposed budget. Budget week gives us the opportunity to look closely at all proposals put forth by Gov. Kemp, without interruption of other session obligations. Unlike our friends in Washington on the federal level, the only thing that we are constitutionally required to do during our 40-day session is pass a BALANCED budget, which is a good thing! Because of our conservative spending, our state is in great shape. Reserves are up, revenue is up, and unemployment is down. Listed below are a few highlights of the 2019 Amended Fiscal year budget and the full 2020 Fiscal Year budget.
2019 Fiscal Year- Spending Changes
The 2019 budget will be amended to reflect a more accurate estimate of state revenue, accounting for any discrepancies between last year’s projected revenue verses actual revenue obtained. Highlighted below are a few of the Governor’s recommendations concerning the 2019 amended budget, which will end June 30 of this year:
•$30,000 to implement school security policies, determined at the local level
•$8.4 million in additional funding to focus on mental health in Georgia schools
•$92.1 million for a midterm adjustment for increased enrollment in public K-12 and state charter schools
•$5.8 million to further enhance the trauma system in our state
•$35.7 million in additional funding to the Forestland Protection Act grant
•$14 million in one-time funds for statewide water planning
•$5.6 million for hazardous waste cleanup activities
2020 Full FY Budget
Last week during his State of the State address, Gov. Kemp announced this year’s budget at $27 billion. The governor listed his funding recommendations, and as expected, education remains a top priority for 2020, receiving over half of the state’s final budget. Below is a highlight of Gov. Kemp’s 2020 FY budget proposals:
•$480 million to ensure that certified public-school teachers receive a permanent pay increase of $3,000
•$500,000 in initial funds to establish a gang taskforce
•$1 million in the FY 2020 budget for the Department of Community Health (DCH) to pursue “flexibility” options for Georgia’s Medicaid program.
•$34.8 million in total funds to increase economic development throughout the state and to bring additional businesses and jobs
•$21.3 million so employer contributions are met through the Teachers Retirement System
•$77.8 million in lottery funds for HOPE scholarships to cover projected needs and a 3 percent award increase
•$32.6 million for the Department of Transportation for additional resurfacing projects and capital projects
Of all the budget proposals, one of the most important proposals for our community is the $35 million going towards our Aviation Academy in Paulding County. This will be a huge win for our region, and we look forward to watching this program come to fruition.
Although budget week has technically come to an end, our work is far from over.
House Appropriation subcommittees will further study budget proposals, eventually passing portions of the suggested budget out of their respective committees. Following this process, those individually passed budgets will then go before the full House Appropriations Committee. Soon after, the budget will receive a full vote on the House floor. If passed by the House, it then moves over to the Senate, where the process begins all over again.
During Senate budget hearings, we will either approve or change House Budget recommendations. If both chambers agree on the budget, it goes to the governor’s desk for his approval and signature. I will keep you updated as to what portion of the budget is allocated to our district, however, nothing is final until it is signed into law by Gov. Kemp.
As always, I will continue to update you on all that is happening under the Gold Dome! Representing the people of our district is such an honor and I grateful that you have given me the opportunity to learn from you, to listen to you and most importantly, to serve you. If you need anything at all, please don’t hesitate to contact me anytime.
State Rep. Micah Gravley, R-Douglasville, represents House District 67 which includes parts of Paulding and Douglas counties. He can be reached at 404-463-8143 or firstname.lastname@example.org.