After pausing to celebrate the legacy of Dr. King on Monday, the second week of the Session began with Joint House and Senate Appropriations hearings on the Amended FY 18 budget
(AFY18) and proposed FY 19 budget
(FY19) budget on Tuesday. Snow postponed Wednesday meetings and the House convened at 2 pm on Thursday and 10 am on Friday for our fifth and sixth legislative days.
Governor Deal and state agency heads presented their respective fiscal requests
and answered questions from my House and Senate colleagues. The final FY19 budget will exceed $26 billion in state funds
. The total budget, including Federal funds, will be approximately $50 billion.
Georgia’s future economic success relies heavily on a connected and efficient transportation network
. Gov. Deal’s FY19 budget recommendations include more than $1.9 billion in annual funding to maintain and enhance our state’s transportation infrastructure
, as well as an additional $100 million in bond funds to repair and replace bridges
. The governor’s AFY18 budget proposal also allocates more than $25 million to expand runways
at 11 of Georgia’s 103 airports to ensure access to all areas of our state, especially rural communities.
Education is always our top funding priority and in Gov. Deal’s final budget proposal, he continued his commitment to Georgia’s students by investing heavily in education programs and initiatives. The governor also recommended adding $361 million for our state’s Teachers Retirement System to shore up as system in need of modernization.
Healthcare also continues to be a top budgetary priority. Since my first year in the House in 2011, we have invested almost $240 million in behavioral health, and as a result of this investment, we have seen a significant decline in individuals committed to Georgia’s behavioral health hospitals. Gov. Deal’s combined AFY18/FY19 budgets also include over $10 million towards the Children’s Autism Initiative. Finally, the governor recommends additional funding for child welfare services including $15 million for out of home care, $10 million to increase foster care per diet rates and over $255 million for Medicaid expense growth.
Georgia becoming technology capital on the east coast
I am sure you have read that Georgia is among 20 sites
under consideration for Amazon’s
new headquarters location and 50,000 jobs
recently announced plans to invest $30 billion in the U.S. over the next five years, create 20,000 new jobs
and build an east coast campus
||Google’s Waymo Self-Driving Mini-Van
Georgia is also attracting exciting high-tech demo projects. AT&T chose Georgia as the only U.S. site for its’ “AirGig” project that may deliver broadband internet service over existing power lines. Microsoft chose Georgia as one of only 12 states to demonstrate their TV White Space technology to deliver broadband internet service over unused television frequencies. Google announced just today they selected Georgia as the newest site for their Waymo Autonomous Vehicle demo.
Georgia is attracting the companies, investments, and technologies that will result in more jobs, higher wages and an improved quality of life because we are focused on remaining the number one state in which to do business
. Last year I chaired the Special Subcommittee on Autonomous Vehicles that enacted our state’s first AV law (SB 219)
. This year I am working to streamline the permitting and approval process to reduce costs and accelerate deployment of small cell technology in Georgia (HB 533)
. I am encouraged about our future and gratified that you allow me to play a small role in facilitating these advances.