The second week of Session always centers around the budget.
There are two budgets every year. The first is the amended or “small” budget that makes mid-year small adjustments for the increase or decrease in forecasted revenues. The second is the annual or “large” budget where most of the big changes are made. Both of these budgets must - by law - originate in the House. The Governor makes his requests, the House drafts the budget, the Senate makes its requests, and then the House and the Senate compromise to create a balanced budget. It should be noted, the federal government has not produced a balanced budget for decades, and 15 states are so deeply in debt that they can not balance their budget. Georgia, on the other hand, has a large “Rainy Day” fund that we’ve been adding to over the last eight years.
Last year’s revenue rose by 4.5 percent. That was with a half a billion income tax cut. The new budget will be about $27.5 billion, while further reducing income taxes by half a billion dollars.
The biggest adjustment to the Amended Budget this year is an added $131 million to K-12 Education. Believe it or not, nearly one out of every four people in Georgia are children who are either being educated or about to be educated. Georgia has one of the very highest percentages of children per capita in the nation. The next biggest item also goes to K-12 schools, $69 million to improve school safety. $35 million will go to expand Medicaid, $35 million will go to fund an Aviation Academy in Paulding County, and $18 million will go to help hospitals.
Over half of the overall budget goes directly to children. 35 percent goes to K-12 Schools, 9 percent goes to the Universities, 3 percent goes to HOPE, 4 percent goes to Behavioral Health, and another 3 percent goes to Pre-K, Technical Colleges, and Juvenile Justice. 13 percent goes to Health, 7 percent goes to Transportation, 5 percent goes to our Bonds, and 3 percent goes to Human Services.
I am very grateful that Speaker David Ralston has promoted me to be the new Chairman of Special Rules. This committee decides what study committees will be authorized. Many big ideas start as study committees, such as my own Military Affairs Working Group and the Rural Development Committee. I am both honored and excited to begin this important work.
I am also very grateful to be named to the new Working Group of Creative Arts and Entertainment. As a author of four novels myself, as well as representing Covington, the Hollywood of the South, I am very pleased that we are expanding opportunities for artists to practice their art in Georgia.
I was also promoted to the powerful Appropriations Committee in the area of Public Safety. This committee handles all the money that we spend on the Judiciary, all of our courts, the GBI, prisons, and the military. I’m also keeping my posts on Education, Interstate Cooperation, Economic Development and Tourism, and Energy and Telecommunications committees.
I hope you will continue to pray for me as I serve the people of Newton and Morgan counties. You may contact me at 706-372-4114 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Belton is a Republican from District 112, serving in the Georgia House of Representatives.