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:

University System

Student Finance

Teachers Retirement System

Technical College System of Georgia

Dept. of Community Health

Dept. of Human Services

Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities

Public Health

Veterans Services

Department of Corrections

Department of Juvenile Justice

Georgia Bureau of Investigation

Criminal Justice Coordinating Council

Department of Public Safety

Georgia Public Safety Training Center

Agriculture

Soil and Water Conservation Commission

State Forestry Commission

Department of Community Affairs

Georgia World Congress Center Authority

Georgia Ports Authority

Department of Natural Resources

Department of Labor

Department of Revenue

Department of Transportation

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