Gov. Nathan Deal today signed into law the bill establishing next year’s $21.8 billion state budget, which will keep Georgia moving forward in education, public safety, economic development, health care and other key areas.
“Our decisions on what to fund each year carry a great deal of weight,” Deal said. “I commend the General Assembly for working with me to produce a balanced budget that reflects the needs of our agencies and the people of this great state.”
The final product includes the following key items:
• An increase of over half a billion dollars in funding for K-12 education, much of which will be used by local school districts to continue to restore instructional days, eliminate furlough days and raise teachers’ salaries
• Funding for the continued development of the Georgia Film Academy to ensure the state has the workforce needed to sustain its thriving film industry
• An expansion of the number of strategic industries for which the full cost of tuition is covered for Georgia’s technical college students — an effort to help meet demand for available workers
• Another $36 million for services for Georgia’s children in need, including funding for additional caseworkers and money to implement the Child Welfare Reform Council’s recommendations, which promote the safety and effectiveness of caseworkers
• Funding for tools needed to make the new “hub and spoke” model for rural hospitals a success, which will help ensure citizens in these rural areas have access to needed care
• An additional $19.7 million to continue the state’s criminal justice reforms, which utilize community alternatives to sentencing, educational initiatives and reentry support to enhance the safety of Georgians through wise stewardship of tax dollars
The governor presented the General Assembly with his fiscal year 2016 budget recommendations at the beginning of the legislative session. Using that report as a starting point, both chambers of the state legislature ultimately passed a uniform version of House Bill 76, which specifies how much state funding various agency programs will receive, subject to any line-item vetoes. The governor vetoed only one line item, issuing a statement below describing his rationale. The fiscal year begins July 1.
Line-Item Veto Statement:
Section 50, pertaining to the Georgia General Obligation Debt Sinking Fund, page 245, Line 355.582:
This language authorizes the appropriation of $809,900 in debt service to finance projects and facilities for the Department of Community Affairs, specifically for the construction of a seawall on Hutchinson Island in Savannah, through the issuance of $3.5 million in five-year taxable bonds. Article VII, Section IV, Paragraph I (c) requires that general obligation debt may only be issued to “acquire, construct, develop, extend, enlarge, or improve land, waters, property, highways, buildings, structures, equipment, or facilities of the state.” In this instance, the state does not have ownership of the land identified for the seawall, and thus is prohibited from using general obligation debt to finance this project. Therefore, Deal vetoes this language (page 245, line 355.582) in the provisions relative to Section 50 State of Georgia General Obligation Debt Sinking Fund and the state general funds of $809,900.