by Jason Schaumburg
The Georgia House passed its version of an amended fiscal year budget Friday, agreeing to spend $2.7 billion more than the previously passed budget.
Appropriations leaders in the Georgia General Assembly must review and approve spending changes for the remainder of fiscal year 2022 and approve a budget for fiscal 2023, which begins July 1.
The amended budget passed Friday matches Gov. Brian Kemp’s proposed spending for the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends June 30. It raises the fiscal year budget from $27.2 billion to $29.9 billion.
“There are three significant takeaways in this amended budget: education, employees and infrastructure,” House Appropriations Committee Chair Terry England, R-Auburn, said Friday on the House floor.
The House’s amended budget restores more than $382 million in cuts to K-12 education and provides $93 million to K-12 schools to accommodate enrollment growth.
The House Budget and Research Office said the House’s amended budget includes $320 million for $2,000 bonuses to full-time school employees and $1,000 bonuses for part-time employees, including instructional staff, school support staff, school administration, teachers, paraprofessionals, school counselors, social workers, special education specialists and psychologists.
The budget also includes $38.4 million for $1,000 bonuses for school nutrition workers, bus drivers, school nurses and custodians.
An additional $465.6 million is allocated for $5,000 raises for full-time, benefit-eligible state employees.
House budget writers agreed to spend millions of dollars on state vehicles, mainly for law enforcement agencies. The Department of Public Safety will replace more than 300 vehicles. The state also would spend $188 million to replace 1,747 school buses over the next three years.
The House’s budget allocates additional funding to repair and upgrade state buildings. It includes $432 million to rollout Kemp’s $600 million plan to buy a newer prison and build a new 3,000-bed prison and $45 million to move state agencies from a Peachtree Street building to Capitol Hill.
The budget would increase state Medicaid spending by $250 million, including $8 million to create the state health care exchange, under Kemp’s limited Medicaid expansion.
The House passed its amended budget, 152-4. The Senate also must propose an amended plan for fiscal 2022. Both chambers of the General Assembly then must agree on a fiscal budget before the spending plan is sent to Kemp for final approval.
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Jason Schaumburg is an award-winning, veteran editor who has been a journalist for more than 20 years. He spent a decade as the top editor in three northern Illinois newsrooms for Shaw Media and Pioneer Press. The Center Square reporter Nyamekye Daniel contributed to this report.
Photo “Brian Kemp” by Governor Brian Kemp. Background Photo “House Chamber, Georgia State Capitol” by DXR. CC BY-SA 4.0.