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Lawmaker reacts to governor's proposed budget

January 11, 2017--3:06 p.m.

By David Crowder

State lawmakers are back at work after Governor Nathan Deal unveiled his $25 billion budget Tuesday.

The FY 2018 spending plan begins on July 1 and includes a 2% pay raise for teachers and more money for schools.
State Representative Eddie Lumsden said most of the legislative session will be driven by the budget and education, specifically so-called “Chronically failing schools.”

“The ‘Opportunity School District’ did not pass but the issue it was trying to address is still there,” he said. “There will be more money spent, particularly targeting our younger age group because the elementary grades are where most of the failing schools are. So, there will be a lot of effort put in to working with our local school boards to provide resources for them to work with those elementary school children.”

Deal is also proposing a 20% pay raise for public safety.

“We’ve been losing good, quality people and it’s just one of those areas that we really need to be proactive about,” Lumsden said. “We need to create an environment where we can attract good, quality people and keep them there. The same is true in our DFCS area.”

Lumsden said revenue growth has been stronger than what has been seen in recent years and about 50% of all new revenue growth has gone into K-12 education.

Amended FY2017 budget highlights include:

$50 million for a new Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center, located on a state-owned property in Augusta, in partnership with state and federal agencies, as well as the private sector to create a secure environment for cybersecurity education programs, testing, and training.

$27.3 million for a 20 percent increase in salary for law enforcement officers as well as additional increases for public safety trainers and criminal investigators to reduce turnover and improve recruitment.

$10 million to support heavy equipment purchases and modernization in the Forest Protection program to aid in preventing and combating wildfires.

$24.7 million for one-time funding to replace various vehicle types in the Department of Public Safety, Department of Community Supervision, Georgia Department of Corrections, Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Juvenile Justice.

$108.7 million in new state general and motor fuel funds for transportation resulting from HB 170 (2015 Session).

$10 million in one-time funds for the Georgia Transportation Infrastructure Bank. 

$15 million for Forestland Protection Act grants.

$111.2 million for a mid-term adjustment for QBE growth.

FY2018 budget highlights include:

$160 million in additional funds for 2 percent teacher salary increases.

$117.4 million for performance incentives for high-performing employees, employee recruitment or retention initiatives for state agencies.

$55.4 million for a 20 percent salary increase for law enforcement officers as well as additional increases for public safety trainers and criminal investigators to reduce turnover and improve recruitment.

$162.6 million in new state general and motor fuel funds for transportation. 

$20.8 million for autism services for children for Medicaid.

$17.9 million for primary care and OB/GYN codes.

$2.5 million for behavioral health services for children ages 0 to 4.