Only hours after his final State of the State address Thursday, Governor Nathan Deal released his budget recommendations to the General Assembly for the amended current and upcoming fiscal years. Priorities in the $26 billion FY 19 budget ($50.8 billion when federal funding is added) include building an educated workforce capable of meeting future job demands, expanding and improving services for Georgia’s most vulnerable citizens, and continuing to invest in transportation infrastructure and economic development.

If approved, the FY 2019 budget will reflect a 3.8 percent increase over the previous budget — “all growth mandated spending,” according to Chris Riley, the Governor’s Chief of Staff.

“The $26 billion in state appropriations included in this budget reflect seven years of investments in our state which have bolstered strong economic growth year after year,” said Deal. “Our conservative budgeting principles have ensured that Georgia is able to both fund current obligations and invest in our state’s long-term economic future. By focusing on key priorities such as workforce development, education and transportation infrastructure, we will continue to move Georgia forward and ensure that our fiscal responsibility sustains economic growth in every corner of the state.

“Our financial leadership keeps Georgia competitive on a national level, resulting in Georgia earning the distinction of the No. 1 state in which to do business for five years in a row.” Deal added. “I look forward to working with the General Assembly to turn these recommendations into a budget that will serve the needs of Georgians and provide meaningful investments for our state.”

Because of uncertainties in federal funds this year, Riley, said this budget “will be very fluid.”

According to Riley, officials don’t know for sure how much revenue the state will collect to fund this budget because federal changes could mean Georgia will take in less money.

Deal’s proposed budget does not include state-funded pay raises for 200,000 teachers or government employees. However, it does include $361 million to help “shore up” the finances of the Teacher Retirement System, according to Riley.

The proposed Fiscal Year 2019 budget will provide additional early access to higher education for promising K-12 students, expand mental health services for children, and continue improving and expanding Georgia’s transportation infrastructure.

Amended FY 2018 budget highlights include:

· $102.1 million for a midterm adjustment for K-12 enrollment growth.

· $10.7 million for growth in the Dual Enrollment program.

· $43.6 million for the Indigent Care Trust Fund and Medicaid.

· $15.1 million for child welfare services to care for children in state custody.

· $2.4 million for autism services for children under 21.

· $17.6 million for Forestland Protection Act grants.

· $10 million for the OneGeorgia Authority for beach nourishment projects.

· $25.2 million for airport runway extension projects.

FY 2019 budget highlights include:

· $361.7 million for the Teachers Retirement System.

· $127.6 million for K-12 enrollment growth, training and experience.

· $30 million to assist low-wealth school systems.

· $54.3 million for resident instruction at University System institutions.

· $5.9 million for operations for the Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center.

· $34.4 million for growth in the Dual Enrollment program.

· $255.9 million for Medicaid to fund growth and offset the loss of federal and other funds.

· $28.8 million for child welfare services to fund out-of-home care growth and foster care per diem increases.

· $5.9 million for autism crisis services for children under 21.

· $22.9 million to implement recommendations from the Commission on Children’s Mental Health.

· $5 million for accountability courts to implement new courts and expand existing courts.

· $31.7 million in new motor fuel funds for transportation.

· $100 million in bond funds to repair and replace bridges throughout the state.

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