Governor Signs $26 Billion State Budget
Staff Report from Georgia CEO
Gov. Nathan Deal held budget signing ceremonies in Atlanta, Acworth, Blue Ridge, Statesboro and Tifton for next year’s $26 billion state budget. HB 684, the FY 2019 budget, continues Deal’s efforts to invest in Georgia’s citizens and its economy through education and transportation initiatives.
“For five years in a row, Georgia has maintained the distinction as the No. 1 state in which to do business in large part due to the multitude of resources available to businesses seeking to relocate or expand operations,” said Deal. “An educated and skilled workforce and a transportation system conducive to free and efficient movement of its people and products remain top priorities for those in our business community.
“To that end, the FY 2019 budget will maintain Georgia’s position as a national leader in conservative fiscal management while further solidifying our commitment to providing all children with greater access to quality education and continuing our efforts to build an infrastructure system that supports our growing population. By fully funding K-12 education and investing heavily in our roads, bridges, transit and ports, we are laying a strong foundation for the short-term and long-term success of our state and local communities. I commend the General Assembly for working with me once again to balance the budget while addressing the issues that matter most to Georgia’s citizens.”
The FY 2019 budget is based on an increase in general fund revenues of 4.1 percent over Amended FY 2018, reflecting Georgia’s strong economic growth and the benefits of state and federal tax reform. The fiscal year begins July 1.
HB 684 includes more than $510 million in new funding for K-12 education, including approximately $115 million for enrollment growth, training and experience, and $167 million to fully fund the Quality Basic Education formula. This additional $167 million will ensure the state is fully doing its financial part to address the concerns of educators who have cited a lack of funding as a barrier to achieving success in the classroom. Full funding for QBE will provide a stronger foundation for lawmakers and stakeholders to reform this outdated formula to accommodate the needs of today’s students and 21st-century classrooms. The FY 2019 budget further supports current and retired teachers by adding $365 million for the Teachers Retirement System to ensure teachers’ pensions maintain solid financial footing.
The FY 2019 budget also includes an additional $31.6 million in motor fuel funds to maintain and expand Georgia’s highway system. This brings the total annual spending on roads and bridges from $673.8 million in AFY 2011 to $1.8 billion in FY 2019, providing more than $1 billion in additional investment in transportation infrastructure annually as a result of HB 170. The budget also includes $100 million in bonds to repair, replace and renovate Georgia’s bridge network, marking the fourth year in a row of such an investment. In meeting the demands of a 21st-century economy and workforce, and in keeping with the General Assembly’s passage of HB 930, the budget also includes $100 million to support local transit systems statewide. This additional funding will create more cohesive governance and planning for transit systems in the metro Atlanta area, while also providing employers with greater mobility to connect with a growing workforce.
Additional FY 2019 budget highlights include:
· $30.8 million for the QBE Equalization program to assist low-wealth school systems
· $54.3 million for the University System of Georgia for resident instruction
· $26.7 million for growth in the Dual Enrollment program
· $3 million to promote educational opportunities available at the state’s technical colleges
· $21.4 million for behavioral health services recommended by the Commission on Children’s Mental Health
· $38.9 million for child welfare services
· $240.9 million for Medicaid programs
· $11.8 million for community-based Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities services
· $6 million for additional Behavioral Health Crisis Centers
· $6.9 million for crisis services for children under 21 diagnosed as autistic
· $35 million in bond funds for the Savannah Harbor deepening project
· $12.5 million in bonds for improvements to state-owned rail systems