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Jan. 23 - State Budget Director says Georgia can afford Gov. Kemp's Budget Proposals f

By Lou Phelps, SBJ Staff

January 23, 2019 – As the Georgia General Assembly gets underway, one of the first orders of business is the State Budget. 

Gov. Brian Kemp’s budget director spoke this week to House and Senate members, assuring them that the economy ahead for Georgia is strong, and that the proposals in Kemp’s annual budget measure can be funded.

Here are the highlights of what is in the Kemp budget:

- Georgia Unemployment rate is at 3.5%, the lowest in 18 years.

- Georgia is the top state for business – six years in a row.

- Georgia is now the ‘Hollywood of the South’, and will soon to be ‘Cyber Capitol of the World.’

- The state has reduced recidivism, saved millions spent by the prison system, and strengthened communities.

- Investments in education have yielded higher graduation rates, according to Kemp.

- Kemp supports the previous administration’s commitment to early learning initiatives.

- Approximately 44% of Georgia teachers leave the profession before five years. To recruit

and retain the best and brightest into local school systems, “we must remove the heavy burdens in the classroom and keep teacher pay competitive. His proposal includes a $3,000 permanent pay increase for certified Georgia teachers, funded by the state, which will cost $480 million per year.  This “serves as a large down payment on the promise to ultimately raise pay by $5,000.”

- A 2% merit increase for all state employees, at an annual cost of $120 million.

These hardworking Georgians play a vital role in serving our families and crafting Georgia’s

future. We must continue to reward their efforts.

- $69 million in one-time funds for school security grants. All 2,294 public schools in the state will receive $30,000 to implement school security priorities determined by local school boards, administrators, teachers, parents, and students.

- $8.4 million in additional funding to the successful APEX program, to focus on mental health in Georgia high schools. }These professionals will engage with struggling students and help provide the resources needed to prevent potential disruptive and aggressive behavior.”

- According to a recent survey conducted by the Georgia Gang Investigators Association, there are over 71,000 validated gang affiliates and 1,500 suspected gang networks in Georgia. 157 counties and 155 school districts reported suspected gang activity. Social media is becoming a tool for recruitment, with kids as young as five years old being tapped for membership. His  proposal includes $500,000 in initial funds to form a gang taskforce within the Georgia

Bureau of Investigation. “This highly qualified group of experienced law enforcement personnel

will work with local District Attorneys and law enforcement to stop and dismantle street gangs.

By utilizing the Criminal Gang and Criminal Alien Database, which will be funded with existing

resources from the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, we can track and deport drug cartel

kingpins that are terrorizing our communities. By working in tandem with federal, state, and

local partners, we can undermine organized crime and keep Georgia families safe,” said Kemp.

- $1 million in the Department of Community Health’s budget to pursue state flexibility options for Georgia’s Medicaid program that increases choices, improves quality, encourages innovation and grows access to affordable healthcare across the state.

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