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Summary for Third Week of 2021 Session

Summary for Third Week of 2021 Session Summary for Third Week of 2021 Session

This week was extremely busy as we had four days of session, met with our committees for the first time, and voted on the Amended Fiscal Year 2021 budget. The budget passed the House, which means the AFY 2021 budget will now be sent to the Senate for further review. As a result of COVID-19, the original Fiscal Year 2021 budget was set using a revenue estimate of $25.9 billion and reduced funding for all state agencies in preparation for a state revenue decline. The amended budget has a revenue increase of $654.3 million due to a positive increase in our state’s economic outlook. Here are a few highlights from the amended budget.

Education: The largest disbursement in the budget each year is K-12 education. As a result, House Bill 80 designates a total of $9.6 billion of the state’s general funds towards these education systems and restores 60% of previous reductions to K-12 education funding. Also, as a result of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, the House’s version of the amended budget reflects $144.6 million in federal funds for the Department of Early Care and Learning for the Child Care and Development Block Grants. The AFY 2021 budget gives the University System of Georgia $70.1 million that was not included in the FY 2021 budget. HB 80 also adds $3.5 million in new funding for enrollment growth at the Technical College System of Georgia.

Health: To improve our state’s current response plan to COVID-19, HB 80 allots $18 million for the Georgia Department of Public Health to replace and modernize its outdated epidemiologic surveillance system. With these funds, the DPH would also be able to implement further infrastructure improvements that would help keep track of COVID-19 cases. Additionally, HB 80 provides $285,997 for the DPH to hire three essential leaders to help navigate the agency’s COVID-19 response: a chief medical officer, a deputy commissioner of public health and a chief data officer.

Human Services: HB 80 acknowledges more than $130 million in federal relief funds for human service agencies used for a variety of pandemic response- related grants, and the bill also recognizes an additional $35 million in savings from the enhanced FMAP rate, which will ensure funding for certain essential programs within the DHS and the DBHDD. Finally, HB 80 supports foster care in our state by partially restoring $176,500 for the Georgia Multi-Agency Alliance for Children to provide educational services to more than 80 foster children, in addition to the more than 1,700 children already served through this program.

Criminal Justice & Public Safety: The AFY 2021 budget allocates more than $427,000 to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation while HB 80 includes an additional $223,600 for the GBI to expand the state’s gang database. Additionally, the amended budget accounts for $100 million from the CARES Act for public safety agencies to help other state agencies as they continue to respond to the pandemic.

Economic Development & Transportation: In an attempt to help the state’s economy recover from the pandemic, the house allocated $20 million for the OneGeorgia Authority to launch its new broadband infrastructure grant program.

Georgia Department of Labor: The AFY 2021 budget sets aside more than $60 million in federal funding for the Georgia Department of Labor to tackle workforce issues resulting from the pandemic. This includes funding for the department’s Unemployment Insurance (UI) Program, the Short-Term Compensation Program and the Dislocated Worker Program. In the coming weeks, we will continue to work on the Fiscal Year 2022 budget. If you have any concerns or questions regarding the state’s budgeting process, or any other legislation, please reach out to me at [email protected] As always, thank you for allowing me to serve as your state representative and I hope to see you soon.

As the State Representative for District 149, Robert Pruitt serves Dodge County, Telfair County, Wheeler County, Cadwell, and Hazlehurst. During the second week of the 2021 Legislative Session, Rep Pruitt was appointed to serve on the Industry and Trade, Economic Development, and Small Business committees for the next two years. Robert and his wife Kelly have been long time residents of Eastman.

By Rep. Robert Pruitt (District 149)

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