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Senate passes FY15 budget

POSTED: March 10, 2014 6:41 p.m.

The Senate passed the fiscal year 2015 general budget on Thursday, totaling $20.8 billion. The budget is built on approximately 4.4 percent revenue growth over the actual FY 2014 amended budget. Lottery proceeds are projected to be $947.9 million, and $1 billion is projected from motor fuel taxes.

Total state general funds have increased in this budget by $776 million over the FY14 amended. The largest item in the increase of that package is the $314.3 million for the Quality Basic Education formula as proposed by Governor Deal for increases in funding intended to put children and teachers in the classroom for a full 180 days.

The budget has a strong focus on technical education. There is $7.3 million in lottery funds for a Zell Miller Scholarship for technical college students achieving a 3.5 GPA or higher. Also for technical colleges, there is another $10 million proposed for a low-interest loan program. The Senate restored $3.6 million for books for dual-enrolled technical college students and also funded $750,000 towards “soft skill” development to assist in career development.

Changes in the State Health Benefit Plan require $58 million from reserves to cover a half-year of costs for the restoration of co-pays.

A conference committee will work over the last two weeks to settle differences.

February revenues hold up
Even with the dual ice and snow storms, Georgia’s tax revenues for the short month of February remained positive and grew by 5.3 percent for the month. However, it was hard to find good news, as many categories were negative for the month.  The tag/title fee continued to be the main revenue driver for the state as the fees increased $63.3 million for the month. Individual income taxes were up 9.5 percent, but that increase only amounted to $19.7 million on revenues of only $227.2 million for the month. The lower total was due to the normal high number of refunds in February which totaled about $615 million, increasing by $43 million.

Sales taxes were down 12 percent on revenues of $392.8 million. Motor fuel taxes were down 5.5 percent for the month, but corporate taxes were up $8.9 million.

Year to date, revenues total $11.7 billion for eight months, showing a gain of $560.3 million or 5.0 percent for the year. Individual income taxes are up 3.2 percent and Sales taxes are down 6.6 percent. Corporate taxes are up $93.8 million YTD and title fees up $491.3 million. Of the $560.3 million gain for the year so far, $491.3 million is due to the title/tag fee.

Bills passed in the Senate and now in the House
SB 98 - Prohibits the State Health Benefit Plan and health plans offered through state or federal health exchanges within Georgia from providing abortion coverage except in the case of a medical emergency. Passed Senate 35-18.
SB 268 - Allows a physician to delegate to a physician assistant the authority to prescribe Schedule II controlled substances. Passed Senate 33-16.  
SB 276 - Designates Georgia as a “Purple Heart State,” honoring our combat wounded veterans for their service and sacrifice. Passed Senate unanimously.
SB 281 - Requires the State Health Benefit Plan to offer at least one high-deductible health plan paired with a health savings account. Passed Senate 40-13.
SB 382 - Creates the crime of retail theft. Provides penalties, a misdemeanor if theft is $500 or less and a felony if more than $500, and increasing penalties for subsequent offenses. Passed Senate unanimously.
SB 383 - Provides that property found on deceased persons by coroners or medical examiners cannot be converted to personal use of the coroner or medical examiner and should be returned to the next of kin when the need for evidence has concluded.  
SB 391 - Requires medical facilities in Georgia to make a good faith effort to apply to the TRICARE program contractor for certification to participate in the TRICARE program.

If you would like additional information regarding a specific piece of legislation, you may access the Georgia General Assembly Web site at

I may be reached at
234 State Capitol, Atlanta, GA 30334
(404) 656-5038 (phone)
(404) 657-7092 (fax)
E-mail at
Or call toll-free at
1-800-367-3334 day or night
Reidsville office: (912) 557-3811


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