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Jan. 11 – $35 Million for Harbor Deepening in 2019 State Budget Proposal; Highlights by Department

Category: Georgia Business News

By Lou Phelps, Coastal Empire News

January 11, 2018 – Gov. Nathan Deal’s 2019 budget proposal was released Thursday morning, along with his proposed Amended 2018 Budget.  Hearings begin next week on both documents.  His 2019 Budget proposal includes $35 million that the Georgia Ports Authority needs to keep the Savannah Harbor Deepening project moving forward, but does not include the $10 million that the Savannah International Trade Center Authority is seeking to develop plans to expand Savannah's trade and convention center. 

Deal's FY 2019 budget is $26.0 billion, built on projected 3.7% general fund growth over the projected FY 2018.  “I have remained optimistic in the strength of Georgia’s economic growth, but conservative in the revenue estimates used for the budget," he states. "This has helped ensure that taxpayers were not faced with draconian cuts in services mid-year if revenues did not grow as planned, and it has helped rebuild our Revenue Shortfall Reserve,” he adds in his Budget Overview. 

Specifically, the Governor's 2019 Budget proposal is built on total state revenues of $26,032,155,186 versus projected 2018 Revenues of $25,071,341,992.  But significantly, that latter figure is more than $1 billion over the revenue figures that the legislature used in adopting the 2018 budget of $24,997,351,235. And, there are six months left in Georgia's fiscal year that ends June 30. 

How to spend the additional revenues - a 4.13% increase in what had been projected for fiscal 2018 state revenues - will be part of next week's hearings on the 2018 Amended budget. 

After required reserves for the Georgia Lottery and several other funds, the State Appropriation for 2018 was $21,447,337,811, but is now projected to be up $917,700,455, or $22,365,038,266.  These funds are available for the Amended 2018 Budget revisions, a 4.28% increase in available state funds over what the current budget is built on. 

The Governor's Amended Budget Proposal released at 11:00 a.m today, appears to recommend spending only $313 million of the additional revenues flowing in. 

In presenting his 2019 budget, Gov. Deal highlighted the state’s reserves were down to $116 million at the end of 2010, as he took office, and is now at $2.3 billion, helping Georgia maintain a AAA credit rating, “saving our taxpayers millions,” states Deal.

His FY 2019 budget increases annual funding levels for our REBA and OneGeorgia programs to $49.4 million.

The Amended FY 2018 budget also provides a one-time increase of $10 million to help preserve and attract jobs and tourism across the state.

“In FY 2011, the budget for the Department of Transportation was $673 million. My FY 2019 budget allocates more than $1.9 billion in annual funding to maintain and improve Georgia’s transportation infrastructure on which our businesses and citizens rely,” he adds.

The capital expenditure in his FY 2019 includes an additional $100 million to repair and replace bridges across the state, “bringing our direct investment in our bridge network to $400 million, and the Amended budget includes over $25 million to enhance our air transportation network to ensure that all areas of the state are accessible by larger aircraft.”

“Since 2011, we have restored $2.7 billion to our K-12 systems, including $59 million in FY 2019. The FY 2019 budget also includes $1.8 million to add 226 new scholars to the REACH Georgia Scholarship program and expand the program. It also adds $60 million to our higher education systems and transfers the Governor’s Office of Workforce Development to the Technical College System of Georgia to further enhance the education to workforce pipeline,” according to Deal.

The FY 2019 budget states that the Georgia Lottery has minimum required reserves of almost

The FY 2019 budget also includes an additional $361.7 million for the Teachers Retirement System to fully fund the actuarially determined employer contribution to keep the pension system on sound footing.

His 2019 budget proposal also includes an additional $15 million to further fund programs and ‘supportive housing’ for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities needs, and expands service options for children diagnosed with autism “to help them get started on the right foot early by investing $3.5 million in Amended FY 2018 and almost $7 million in FY 2019 as part of the Children’s Autism Initiative.”

The FY 2019 budget also includes $22.9 million to begin funding recommendations from the Commission on Children’s Mental Health for crisis services, therapeutic foster care, Apex grants, telehealth services, suicide prevention, wraparound services, supported employment and education, and opioid prevention and treatment to provide comprehensive support to Georgia’s youth in crisis.

In FY 2011, Georgia had 53,341 offenders residing in the state’s prisons. “We projected that we would have more than 60,000 in prison by today. Instead of growing our population, today that number is less than 53,000, meaning we are paying for 7,000 fewer inmates than we would otherwise be housing, avoiding more than $156 million in annual costs to imprison these offenders. Sentencing reform has kept low-level, non-violent offenders out of our prison system, and accountability courts have diverted offenders to rehabilitative services within their communities. These reforms have kept families together, kept individuals employed, and helped offenders avoid an endless cycle of recidivism that destroys lives and communities. We  have invested a total of $113.9 million in establishing and operating accountability courts across the state since FY 2012, and the FY 2019 budget includes an additional $5 million to further those efforts,” the budget introduction explains.

Budget Highlights by Department

K-12 Public Schools:

  • $127,604,097 for enrollment growth and training and experience to recognize a 0.38% increase in enrollment, bringing the total number of full-time equivalent (FTE) students funded in FY 2019 to over 1.75 million students and over 128,000 teachers and administrators.
  • $30,062,680 for the QBE Equalization program to assist low-wealth school systems.
  • $259,525,000 in bonds for construction and renovation projects for local school systems and $1,150,000 for facility improvements for state schools.
  • $1,675,000 in bonds for construction and renovation projects at Camp John Hope in Fort Valley and the FFA/FCCLA center in Covington.
  • Governor’s Office of Student Achievement $1,557,628 to establish a leadership academy for principals per HB 338 (2017 Session).

University System

  • $54,277,220 for resident instruction to reflect an increase in credit hour enrollment and square footage at University System institutions.
  • $4,494,296 for 19 positions and operating expenses for the Hull McKnight Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center to facilitate economic development through collaboration between technology industry leaders, startup companies, and government to recruit, train, and retain cybersecurity technology experts.
  • $266,700,000 in bonds for new capital projects as well as major repairs and renovations at all University System institutions.
  • $2,000,000 in bonds for major repairs and renovations and technology improvements for public libraries statewide.
  • $1,900,000 in bonds for equipment at Georgia Military College.

Student Finance

  • $68,093,562 in additional lottery funds to provide a 3% increase in the award amount for the HOPE (public and private schools) scholarships and grants over FY 2018 and to meet the projected need.
  • $34,379,357 in state funds for growth in the Dual Enrollment program.
  • $1,838,000 in state funds for the REACH Georgia Scholarship program to provide 226 additional scholarships statewide and expand into 44 new school systems.
  • $750,000 in state funds for the Georgia National Guard service cancelable loan program to provide additional awards and expand program eligibility to include graduate degree programs.

Teachers Retirement System

  • $361,719,680 to fully fund the actuarially determined employer contribution for the Teachers Retirement System.

Technical College System of Georgia

  • $1,685,416 for the maintenance and operation of additional square footage at system institutions.
  • $1,000,000 for marketing to promote the educational opportunities available at the state’s technical colleges.
  • $95,270,000 in bonds for new capital projects, as well as repairs, renovations, and equipment at all TCSG institutions.
  • $73,361,918 in federal funds to transfer the Governor’s Office of Workforce Development from the Department of Economic
  • Development to leverage workforce development initiatives and educational resources to meet industry workforce training demands.
  • $253,601 to transfer the customized recruitment initiative from the Workforce Solutions program within the Department of Labor to support workforce needs throughout the state.

Dept. of Community Health

  • $255,944,645 for Medicaid, including $92.3 million to replace Tenet settlement funds, $45.7 million in new funding for baseline expense growth, $57.9 million increase in state funds to offset a reduction in the federal financial participation rate, $32.2 million for reinstatement of the Health Insurance Provider Fee, $16.9 million for a nursing home provider rate increase, $5 million for a nursing home liability insurance rate increase, $3.4 million for an alternative living services provider rate increase, and $1.7 million for Direct Graduate Medical Education expansion programs, and $803,049 for a personal needs allowance increase for nursing home residents.
  • $1,915,629 for additional Graduate Medical Education (GME) slots.

Dept. of Human Services

  • $31,092,968 for child welfare services, including $15.1 million for out-of-home care utilization, $7.5 million for a relative foster parent
  • · per diem increase, $3.8 million for child placement agency administrative and foster parent per diem increases, $2.4 million for a child caring institution per diem increase, and $2.3 million for care coordination for foster children as recommended by the Commission on Children’s Mental Health.

Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities

  • $3,138,073 for 125 additional slots for the New Options Waiver (NOW) and Comprehensive Supports Waiver (COMP) for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
  • $11,775,713 for 250 additional NOW and COMP waivers, bridge funding and housing vouchers for the Department of Justice (DOJ) settlement extension.
  • $3,000,000 for one Behavioral Health Crisis Center to address emergency crisis needs for individuals with mental illnesses.
  • $5,922,917 for crisis services for children under 21 diagnosed as autistic.
  • $20,626,044 for behavioral health services as recommended by the Commission on Children’s Mental Health, including $10.4 million for crisis services, $4.3 million for Apex school-based mental health services, $3.0 million for supported employment and education, $1.1 million for suicide prevention, $1.0 million for provider training and telehealth, and $790,801 for opioid prevention and intervention.

Public Health

  • $1,081,951 for public health including $626,545 for the prescription drug monitoring program
  •  $355,406 to establish the Office of Cardiac Care
  • $100,000 to provide screening and therapy for children under 21 diagnosed as autistic.

Veterans Services

  • $278,468 to establish a new Veterans field service office in Columbia County and to expand existing field service offices in Fulton and Columbus-Muscogee Counties.

Department of Corrections

  • $5,008,101 to annualize operating expenses of Metro Re-entry State Prison. The prison will serve as a re-entry facility that will support efforts to reduce recidivism and promote successful reentry of offenders in the Metro Atlanta area.

Department of Juvenile Justice

  • $1,865,880 to annualize funds for care of youth who pose a public safety risk while determination of competency and a plan for care are decided.
  • $3,503,472 for security management, education, and medical services at the newly converted 56 bed Cadwell RYDC which will open in September 2018.
  • $531,810 for a child caring institution per diem increase.

Georgia Bureau of Investigation

  • $1,398,967 for eight positions and operating expenses for the Hull McKnight Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center to facilitate economic development through collaboration between technology industry leaders, startup companies, and government to recruit, train, and retain cybersecurity technology experts.

Criminal Justice Coordinating Council

  • $5,000,000 for the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council to increase funds for grants for the implementation costs of new courts along with expenses associated with the expansion of all levels of accountability courts to reduce recidivism of offenders through local treatment options.

Department of Public Safety

  • $3,247,270 for personal services associated with one 75 person trooper school to increase the number of sworn officers patrolling Georgia’s roads and highways.

Georgia Public Safety Training Center

  • $514,291 for five additional Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) instructors to address law enforcement training needs statewide.


  • $2,400,000 in bond funds to support facility improvements and repairs.

Soil and Water Conservation Commission

  • $5,500,000 in bond funds for the rehabilitation of flood control structures.

State Forestry Commission

  • $2,030,000 in bond funds for planning, design, construction, and equipment for district offices.

Department of Community Affairs

  • $3,500,000 for the OneGeorgia Authority for economic development projects.
  • $16,000,000 in bond funds for water supply projects through the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority.

Georgia World Congress Center Authority

  • $7,500,000 in bond funds for the construction of a pedestrian mall.

Georgia Ports Authority

  • $35,000,000 in bond funds for the Savannah Harbor deepening project.

Department of Natural Resources

  • $8,000,000 in new state general funds for natural resources per HB 208 (2017 Session).
  • $18,650,000 in bond funds to support facility improvements and repairs ($13,550,000); two new boat houses and the replacement of two visitor centers ($4,100,000); and ADA and safety improvements ($1,000,000).
  • $5,000,000 in bond funds for land acquisition for the preservation of wildlife and natural resources.

Department of Labor

  • $1,190,000 in bond funds for ADA and safety improvements.

Department of Revenue

  • $222,696 for four positions to assist in motor vehicle registration and taxpayer services.

Department of Transportation

  • $31,650,000 in new motor fuel funds for transportation per HB 170 (2015 Session).
  • $100,000,000 in bond funds for the repair, replacement, and renovation of bridges throughout the state.

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