This week the House and Senate Appropriation Committees met in joint hearings for budget presentations from the Governor and leaders of state agencies. Though once again, the proposed state budget is lean, with spending at 17% less per capita than a decade ago, and includes cuts to various programs, the overall budget is proposed to grow approximately 2.6% from $19.3 billion to $19.8 billion in state funds.
Additional funding is included for education – pre-K program expansion, fully-funding the Quality Basic Education formula, and salary increases for teachers based on training and experience. The Governor’s proposal includes $50 million to continue Georgia’s commitment to expanding the Port of Savannah and $85 million for water and transportation infrastructure projects.
The Governor’s proposal also includes $246 million in additional Medicaid funding and a proposal to permit the Department of Community Health to administer a Hospital Provider Fee to leverage federal dollars in this program.
The state’s “Rainy Day Fund” or reserve fund is slowly returning to a more reasonable level and is now $378 million. Georgia maintains its’ Triple A bond rating and administers state government with 9,000 fewer employees than five years ago.
I am carefully reviewing the budget document and information on the various state programs. While I appreciate that the rate of growth has slowed this year versus last, I remain concerned that certain programs are on a course that may not be sustainable.
I welcome your input and comments on how Georgia spends and invests your tax dollars.
Second Amendment / Gun Rights
I am receiving numerous calls and emails regarding protecting our liberties with regard to individual gun ownership and one’s ability to carry the firearm of their choosing. Please be assured I am a strong supporter of both our U.S. and Georgia Constitutional rights with regard to firearms. I will support legislation that protects and expands those rights.
Taxing Vintage / Hobby Vehicles
I am also hearing from you on HB 80 that purports to levy an ad valorem tax on vintage and hobby vehicles. As one that hopes to be the heir of a fully restored 1955 Thunderbird, will oppose efforts to increase taxation on these vehicles.