2: January 15, 2018
second week of the 2018 legislative session started under the Gold Dome on
Thursday, January 18th.
General Assembly is constitutionally required to pass a balanced state budget
every year, and we began the budget process this week with the joint House and
Senate Appropriations committees. The
joint committees met for a series of hearings to review Governor Nathan Deal’s
Budget Process kicked off on Tuesday, January 16th:
Gov. Deal presented his comprehensive
budget proposal to the members of the House and Senate Appropriations
committees. Gov. Deal’s Fiscal Year 2019
(FY 2019) budget is the largest budget to be presented to the General Assembly
in our state’s history. Georgia has
experienced a tremendous economic boom in recent years, and because of our
state’s success, we have maintained our AAA credit rating, been named the No. 1
state in which to do business for five consecutive years, invested billions of
dollars in education and grown our Rainy Day Fund.
state’s financial success and robust economy have made Georgia a national
leader economically, and Gov. Deal’s budget proposals build upon these
successes, as well as create new prospects for growth. During this week’s
budget hearings, we also heard testimonies from several state agency heads,
each of whom expressed their respective agency’s fiscal needs and answered questions
from my House colleagues and Senate counterparts. The final budget will outline
state funding for each of these agencies, which is why it is critical that we
hear their budgetary needs as we begin this arduous process.
our state has experienced significant growth over the past several years,
Georgia’s future economic success heavily relies on a connected and efficient
transportation network. Gov. Deal’s FY 2019 budget recommendations include more
than $1.9 billion in annual funding to maintain and enhance our state’s
transportation infrastructure, as well as an additional $100 million to repair
and replace bridges throughout the state.
governor’s Amended Fiscal Year 2018 (AFY 2018) budget proposal also allocates
more than $25 million to expand runways at 11 airports in Georgia to ensure
that larger aircrafts can access all areas of our state, including our rural
communities. Our state’s citizens, and especially our businesses, depend on a
viable transportation system, which is why it is important to invest in all
areas of our state’s transportation network.
has consistently been one of Gov. Deal’s top funding
priorities, and in his final budget proposal, the governor continued his
commitment to Georgia's students by investing in many education programs and
initiatives. Gov. Deal’s AFY 2018 budget includes $102.1 million for a midterm
adjustment for K-12 enrollment growth and $10.7 million for growth in the Dual
Enrollment program. The governor’s FY 2019 budget proposal also includes $30
million to assist low‐wealth
school districts and adds $127.6 million to fund K-12 enrollment growth and
training and experience for Georgia teachers. Additionally, Gov. Deal’s FY 2019
budget allots $1.8 million for the REACH Georgia Scholarship program, which
would provide 226 additional scholarships statewide and expand the program into
44 new school districts. The governor also added $361.7 million for our state’s
Teachers Retirement System to fully fund the state’s determined employer
contribution. An investment in our state's young minds is an investment in
Georgia's future, and our state will reap the benefits of these education
appropriations for generations to come.
has also continued to be a top priority in our state’s
budget. Since 2011, our state has invested almost $240 million in behavioral
health, and as a result of this investment, we have seen a significant decline
in individuals civilly committed to Georgia’s behavioral health hospitals. The
governor’s FY 2019 budget proposal allots $15 million to continue to fund
Georgia’s intellectual and developmental disabilities waiver services and to
provide supportive housing for Georgians in need. Gov. Deal’s recommendations
also include $3.5 million in the AFY 2018 budget and almost $7 million in FY
2019 budget towards the Children’s Autism Initiative. Additionally, the
governor’s FY 2019 budget allocates $22.9 million to fund crisis services,
therapeutic foster care, Apex grants, telehealth services, suicide prevention,
wraparound services, supported employment and education and opioid prevention
and treatment, which were all recommendations made by the Commission on
Children’s Mental Health. Georgia’s behavioral health services have helped
countless Georgians to thrive in our state, and investing in such services is
critically important so we can continue to assist these citizens.
Justice reform initiatives also received additional funding in
his budget proposal. One such initiative is Georgia’s accountability court
system, which provides low-level, non-violent offenders with sentencing
alternatives, such as rehabilitative services. Since FY 2012, our state has
allotted a total of $113.9 million to establish and operate these courts
statewide, and the FY 2019 budget includes an additional $5 million to continue
those efforts. Gov. Deal’s sentencing reform initiatives have a proven track
record and have helped low-level offenders receive the help they truly need,
rather than keeping those individuals in Georgia’s prison system.
welfare services includes $15.1 million for growth in out-of-home care
utilization, $10.1 million to continue to increase Georgia’s foster parent per
diem rates and $3.6 million to increase out-of-home care provider rates. Medicaid expense growth almost
$256 million offset federal revenue and settlement loss.
governor’s proposed budgets provide state dollars for several essential
programs and initiatives that meet the wide-ranging needs of all of our state’s
citizens. The governor’s FY 2019 budget proposal provides funding for Georgia’s
are just some of the highlights of the governor’s budget proposals. The House Appropriations subcommittees will
hold hearings next week to continue to review these proposals and delve even
further into the governor’s recommendations.
These subcommittees will eventually pass portions of the state budget in
their respective subcommittees, and those portions of the budget will then go
before the full House Appropriations Committee, which will review and pass
balanced budgets for AFY 2018 and FY 2019.
addition to the joint budget hearings this week,
the House also convened on
Thursday and Friday for legislative Day 5 and legislative Day 6 of the session.
actions from our colleagues in the Senate -- on Thursday passed their version of House
Bill 159. The original bill passed
the House unanimously last session and would modernize our state’s adoption
laws for the first time in nearly 30 years.
The Senate amended some key provisions in the legislation and added HB
359, a bill dealing with temporary powers of attorney, which Gov. Deal vetoed
last year. We began reviewing the
Senate’s changes this week, and we hope to work with them and Gov. Deal to get
this measure finalized and signed into law.
much anticipation, the governor announced on Thursday that Atlanta is included
on Amazon’s short list of Top 20 finalists for the company’s second
headquarters. Georgia has consistently
been ranked the best state in the country for business, and our state has many
attractive resources and benefits that give us a competitive advantage over
other states. I look forward to seeing
how Georgia continues to fare in Amazon’s site selection process.
~ The House will be back in session
Monday, January 22nd at 10:00am ~
Visit the House website, www.house.ga.gov, for several
tools that might be useful to you throughout the legislative session:
live stream of House proceedings
live and archived committee meeting videos
detailed information on all legislation we are
considering in the General Assembly.
I encourage you to visit me at my Capitol office, if you
ever find yourself in Atlanta during session.
My office is located across from the State Capitol, in the Coverdell Legislative
Office Building, Suite 411. Feel free to
call or email me with any concerns regarding current or upcoming
legislation: Sheila.Jones@house.ga.gov - 404.656.0127.
Thank you for allowing me to serve as your