It has been a short but busy week here at the state Capitol in Atlanta.
We all had Monday off in honor and remembrance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., but we got right back into the swing of things on Tuesday. We did not meet in chamber and, instead, focused all of our attention on joint budget hearings. The Senate Appropriations Committee and various Subcommittees have been meeting throughout the week to iron out the finer points of the Governor’s recommended budget.
Every year, the Georgia General Assembly has only one constitutional duty; to pass a balanced budget. These budget hearings allow us to do just that and guarantee that every penny of the budget we pass ends up benefitting the most people possible. While these meetings can be long, they are an important and necessary step in making sure that our state is allocating its funds responsibly and efficiently.
The budget process in Georgia starts first from the Governor’s office where Gov. Deal set forward his proposed budget for the 2017 fiscal year. The budget is then introduced in the House of Representatives where it travels through the legislative process not unlike any other bill. The House Appropriations Committee and Subcommittees then hold hearings on various parts of the budget. The subcommittees will then make their recommendations to the House Appropriations committee, where a vote will be held. Once the bill is voted out of the committee, it will then be subject to a vote on the House floor. By passing that vote, the budget is then sent to the Senate Appropriations Committee where it begins its vetting process by the Senate. If any changes are made to the budget on the Senate side, the House must then vote to accept those changes and vice versa. The process will continue that way until we have a balanced budget that is agreed on by both chambers. The budget’s final stop is back at the Governor’s desk where he has the ability to veto certain line items, before finally giving it his signature, thereby finalizing the new budget.
This week we recognized Wednesday, Jan. 21 as “Together Georgia Day” at the state Capitol. Together Georgia is an alliance of children and family service providers who provide services for many communities throughout our state. We are proud to honor them and recognize their great contributions to Georgia’s families.
Even though it has been a short week, there has been a lot going on behind the scenes. Many senators are in the process of crafting important legislation that we look forward to debating in the coming weeks. It is sure to be an exciting and productive session.
My door and phone lines are always open. Please reach out to me if you have any questions or concerns on any current or pending legislation during the session. I look forward to hearing from you!
Sen. Rick Jeffares serves as Chairman of the Regulates Industries Committee. He represents the 17th Senate District which includes portions of Henry, Rockdale and Newton counties. He may be reached by phone at 404.463.1376 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.