Last week began with a day off to reflect upon one of Georgia’s greatest, Martin Luther King Jr., whose ideals of peace and justice are woven into everything we do here at the Capitol. After our day of remembrance, we returned to the Gold Dome and hit the ground running with budget hearings.
Budget week started with Joint Senate and House Appropriations hearings, which included presentations from several state agencies as well as Governor Brian P. Kemp, on the Amended Fiscal Year 2019 and General Fiscal Year 2020 budgets. As secretary of the Appropriations Committee, I am happy to say that the state’s budget continues to be in good shape, with the FY20 budget topping $27 billion for the first time. Below are some highlights for the two budgets.
Proposed Amended FY19 budget, which totals around $26.9 billion:
· $68.8 million for school security grants. This total amount will be appropriated at $30,000 per school statewide.
· $491,300 in initial funding to support the Atlanta-region Transit Link Authority.
· $69.3 million for transportation as a result of HB 170.
· $35.7 million additional funding to the Forestland Protection Act grant for repayment to counties and local systems.
Proposed General FY20 budget, which totals around $27.5 billion:
· $34.8 million in total funds to the Department of Economic Development to increase economic development throughout the state and to bring additional businesses and jobs.
· $33 million in additional lottery funds to provide a three percent increase in the award amount for HOPE scholarships.
· $32.6 million appropriated to the Department of Transportation for additional resurfacing projects and capital projects.
· $100 million in bond funds for the repair, replacement and renovation of bridges throughout the state.
The General FY20 budget addresses our state’s continuing commitment to economic growth. Gov. Kemp has proposed $34.8 million in total funds to the Department of Economic Development to continue the economic expansion that Gov. Deal so successfully cultivated.
The state’s growing need to address transportation infrastructure is accounted for in the Amended FY19 budget. An additional $69.3 million in projected revenues resulting from House Bill 170 – passed during the 2015 legislation session – will be added to the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) budget. I am very happy to see that a piece of legislation we passed a couple of years ago is still making positive impacts for GDOT. The General FY20 budget includes $100 million for roadway improvements, as well. I will utilize my role as vice chairman of the Transportation Committee to ensure that this investment in Georgia’s infrastructure does not go to waste.
Next week, standing committees will begin to hold meetings and legislation will continue to be introduced in the Senate. I will continue to work on legislation that addresses broadband expansion and will keep you updated as the pace picks up and this session gets busier. As we move forward over the next few weeks, please do not hesitate to reach out with questions, concerns and feedback. It is always great to hear from my constituents, and our door is always open.
Sen. Steve Gooch serves as Majority Whip of the Senate Majority Caucus. He represents the 51st Senate District which includes Dawson, Fannin, Gilmer, Lumpkin, Union and White counties and portions of Forsyth and Pickens counties. He may be reached at (404) 656-9221 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.