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Governor signs $25 billion FY 2018 state budget

May 1, 2017 GMT

ALBANY — Gov. Nathan Deal on Monday held budget signing ceremonies across the state for next year’s $25 billion state budget. The legislation, HB 44, will support Georgia citizens by funding initiatives in education, human services, public safety, state infrastructure and other key areas.

This budget is based on a 3.5 percent increase in general fund revenues over FY 2017, reflecting Georgia’s sustained economic growth.

“The FY 2018 budget maintains Georgia’s position as a national leader in conservative fiscal management and further strengthens our top priorities: quality education for all children, public safety in our communities, an economy that continues to generate jobs and an infrastructure system that supports a growing population,” Deal said. “With this budget, we are working to make Georgia a better place to live, work and play by investing in public safety personnel, teachers and others responsible for ensuring the safety of Georgia’s children.

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“Georgia has enjoyed sustained economic growth, and this budget lays the foundation for continued short-term and long-term success. I commend the General Assembly for working with me once again to balance the budget while addressing the issues that matter most to Georgia’s citizens.”

HB 44 invests more than $516 million in new funding for K-12 education, including allocations of more than $156.8 million for enrollment growth, training and experience, and $85.8 million for the Quality Basic Education Equalization program to assist low-wealth school systems. Also included is $160.1 million in funding to provide a 2 percent increase to the state base salary schedule for certified personnel, school bus drivers and school nurses. The budget also provides additional funding for the Teachers Retirement System to ensure teachers’ pensions maintain strong financial footing.

The FY 2018 budget also invests more than $96 million in the Department of Human Services child welfare programs to ensure that “those who care for our most vulnerable citizens have the resources necessary to provide safe, caring environments for children in need.” Of this funding, $25.9 million will provide 19 percent pay increases for child protective services employees to assist the department in recruiting and retaining staff, and $31 million will provide per diem rate increases for foster parents and relatives caring for children.

The budget includes $55.2 million in addition to funding allocated in the Amended FY 2017 budget to provide a 20 percent salary increase for law enforcement personnel, as well as salary increases for criminal investigators and public safety trainers. This increase has already had a significant impact in recruiting new officers for the Department of Public Safety, as the department has received twice as many trooper applications as usual since the increase was announced in September.

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As a result of continued revenue growth from HB 170, the Georgia Department of Transportation will receive an additional infusion of $162.6 million to help maintain the state’s roads and bridges. This is in addition to the $100 million already included in this year’s capital funding package to supplement bridge repairs and improvements. To date, HB 170 has generated more than $1 billion in new funding each year to expand and maintain Georgia’s road and bridge network.