2024 Session: Week 2 Update
156, Georgia Representatives)
O n Tuesday, Janu ary 16, I joined much of the legislature at the State Capitol for the commencement of “budget week.” Each year, the Georgia General Assembly undertakes the crucial constitutional obligation of passing a balanced budget. The second week of the legislative session is traditionally devoted to joint House and Senate Appropriations Committee hearings, initiating the state budget process. To kick off budget week, Governor Kemp presented his recommendations to the joint committee for the current and upcoming fiscal year budgets. The governor’s proposal, a pivotal guide to state spending, will be incorporated into legislation. I’ll provide a summary of his presentation below.
Governor Kemp’s Budget Proposal As we embark on the state budget process, the Appropriations committees are tasked with drafting two significant bills. The first, the Amended Fiscal Year 2024 (AFY 2024) budget, appropriates spending for the remainder of the current fiscal year, accounting for differences in revenue estimates. The AFY 2024 budget includes an additional $5.06 billion in revenue, totaling $37.51 billion. The second bill, the Fiscal Year 2025 (FY 2025) budget, outlines state spending for the upcoming fiscal year, set at a revenue estimate of $36 billion.
In his budget proposal, the governor highlighted Georgia’s decade-long status as the number one state for business with a AAA bond rating, attributing this success to sound financial investments. The AFY 2024 and FY 2025 budget proposals aim to continue the state’s historic economic development.
Emphasizing Georgia’s economic potential, Governor Kemp proposed a $1.5 billion investment in the AFY 2024 budget for the Georgia Department of Transportation. This investment focuses on maintaining roadways, accelerating construction on “shovel-ready” projects, and expediting existing projects, enhancing efficiency and safety for freight and logistics. The AFY 2024 budget also allocates $250 million for critical water and wastewater infrastructure development and an additional $250 million for economic development grants, supporting rural site development, and addressing workforce housing.
Governor Kemp and the General Assembly continue to prioritize K-12 teachers and the state’s public workforce. An historic $1 billion investment in the state’s retirement, risk, and health portfolios is proposed, including a $500 million investment in the Employees’ Retirement System. The FY 2025 budget allocates $244 million to K-12 schools for teacher’s health insurance and proposes $306 million in the AFY 2024 budget for a $1,000 pay supplement, along with funding in FY 2025 for a four percent cost-of-living adjustment to state employees. K-12 teachers and other certified employees would see a $2,500 salary increase.
Regarding education, Governor Kemp addressed the outdated public school transportation formula, proposing nearly $205 million in the FY 2025 budget to provide more state support. Additionally, $11 million is allocated for K-12 literacy initiatives, $104 million for a new school security grant program, and various allocations for mental health services, behavioral health crisis centers, and maternal health programs. Other noteworthy items in Gov. Kemp’s AFY 2024 and FY 2025 proposals include funding for a $3,000 salary increase for select law enforcement officers and $10 million to reduce pre-K classroom sizes.
In addition to hearing from Gov. Kemp during budget week, we also had the opportunity to hear from state agency leaders and department heads, each outlining and advocating for their budgetary needs for the remainder of AFY 2024 and FY 2025. We also heard from Georgia’s economist, who provided a comprehensive overview of the economic forecast for this year. These important presentations will assist us as we begin the next phase of the state budget process and work to ensure that we create budgets that meet the diverse needs of our state and its citizens.
With joint budget hearings concluded, House Appropriations subcommittees will delve into specific portions of the budget during the third week of the legislation session. As vicechair of the House Transportation committee and vice-chair of the Education Subcommittee of Appropriations, I will particularly be looking closely at transportation and public education budgets. Guided by the Georgia Constitution, each subcommittee will pass portions of the AFY 2024 and FY 2025 state budgets, resulting in two complete budget bills for approval by the full House Appropriations Committee. After approval, each bill will undergo a House floor vote and be transmitted to the Senate, where the same process will occur. Changes are expected, and I will provide updates as the House and Senate work through the budget process.
Visitors from Home
Last week, hundreds visited the Capitol to celebrate Addiction Recovery Awareness Day. I’m so proud of the work Craig George and everyone at Gardens of Hope RCO and Forge Recovery Center do to provide support for those living in recovery from substance use disorder in our community.
We have another busy week ahead as the pace of the session continues to pick up and as House committees begin to meet more frequently to consider legislation. As we move forward, I encourage you to visit me at the Capitol or contact me at Leesa.Hagan@house. ga.gov if you have any questions or concerns regarding the state budget bills, the legislative process, or any other measures being considered under the Gold Dome. As always, thank you for allowing me to serve as your state representative.
By Leesa Hagan R-Vidalia (District 156. Georgia House of Representatives)
By Leesa Hagan