Budget Week at the Capitol has come and gone with joint appropriations meetings with the General Assembly to discuss balancing Georgia’s budget for the rest of this fiscal year and next. The Governor and state agencies delivered presentations and projections of how they suggest the budget be distributed.
There are 39 states, including Georgia, which require balanced budgets to be passed by the legislature. The amended budget ensures that expenses are prioritized and unnecessary expenses are eliminated. Once the amended budget has passed, work will begin on the larger 2018 fiscal year budget, which will appropriate taxpayer’s money through June 2018. As legislators, we must work tirelessly to consider every detail of both budgets so we spend our taxpayers’ money in the most efficient manner possible.
Our state is currently in a great position financially. We have continually passed balanced budgets and, due to growth in population as a result of our favorable business climate, we are bringing in more revenue than we have in the past several years and have a bigger budget to prove it. In fact, our budget for Fiscal Year 2018 is at nearly $25 billion. That is almost $5 billion more than we had before the Great Recession in 2007.
During the budget hearings this week, Gov. Deal shared a more in-depth look at his budget proposals. He reiterated the importance of supporting and retaining the state’s best workers by suggesting a two percent raise for teachers, which will be provided through an adjustment to the salary matrix for teachers to ensure they receive every dollar intended for them, a 19 percent raise for Division of Family and Children Service (DFCS) workers and a 20 percent raise for law enforcement officers in the Georgia State Patrol.
Georgia’s population is increasing each and every year at a rate that is making it challenging to keep up with the pace. Our schools are experiencing overcrowding and traffic congestion seems to never end. To help alleviate this, Gov. Deal has proposed the state allocate $240 million in bonds for new school construction and equipment, which will enable us to ease some of the overcrowding in our K-12 schools. He has also recommended $1.79 billion for transportation infrastructure improvements throughout our state for FY 2018.
With that said, it is great that we have a surplus of funds, but it is important that we continue to monitor our spending to ensure we are being fiscally responsible. As a member of the Appropriations Committee, I will work with my colleagues as we go line by line through the budget to guarantee we are not overextending our resources and maintain a balanced budget.
You can find Governor Deal’s proposed Fiscal Year 2017 Amended budget here: https://opb.georgia.gov/sites/opb.georgia.gov/files/related_files/site_page/AFY%2017%20State%20of%20Georgia%20Budget.pdf
You can find Governor Deal’s proposed Fiscal Year 2018 General Budget here: https://opb.georgia.gov/sites/opb.georgia.gov/files/related_files/site_page/FY%2018%20State%20of%20Georgia%20Budget.pdf
If you have any questions regarding the budget or the budget process, please feel free to reach out – my door and phones are always open!
Sen. Rick Jeffares serves as Chairman of the Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee. He represents the 17th Senate District which includes portions of Henry, Rockdale and Newton counties. He may be reached by phone at 404.651.7738 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.