Our second week of the 2019 Legislative Session began with the observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day across our state and country. As our nation grapples with increasing divisiveness in the political arena, I believe Dr. King’s legacy should serve as a powerful reminder that so much more unites us than divides us as Americans.
This week marked the beginning of the budget process for the 2019 General Assembly. Across three days, the House and Senate Appropriations committees heard from Gov. Brian Kemp as well as numerous agency heads as they reviewed the proposals for the Amended Fiscal Year (AFY) 2019 and Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 budgets. The Fiscal Year 2020 budget sets a revenue estimate of $27.5 billion and stands as a testament to the strong growth and sustained prosperity Georgia has enjoyed in recent years. In his first test as governor, Kemp has demonstrated his commitment to continuing the pragmatism and conservative fiscal stewardship of Govs. Nathan Deal and Sonny Perdue.
Over the next few weeks, the House and Senate will work cooperatively with the Governor’s office to ensure that your hard-earned tax dollars are invested wisely. Each dollar our state spends counts as an investment towards a better future for Georgia, whether it is dedicated to education, transportation, or health care. Among some of our more notable investments in this year’s budget are:
* $69 million in the AFY 2019 Budget to provide $30,000 school security grants to every public school in the state for security improvements.
* $8.4 million in the AFY 2019 budget to bolster the Georgia Apex Program, which provides mental health services and counseling in high schools in an effort to identify and treat aggressive or violent students with mental health issues.
* Over $500 million in the FY 2020 budget to provide a permanent $3,000 salary increase for our pre-K and K-12 teachers as well as a 2% salary increase for education support employees such as school bus drivers, school nurses, and school nutrition workers.
* $150 million in bond funds to enable our state to replace our antiquated voting systems prior to the 2020 election.
* $500,000 in the FY 2020 budget for the creation of a Gang Task force within the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
To quote the late Dr. King, “the time is always right to do what is right.” The priorities outlined in the AFY 2019 and FY 2020 budgets demonstrate Kemp and the General Assembly’s overarching commitment to doing what is right for the people of Georgia. In the days ahead, I promise to continue fighting to keep our families safe, businesses growing, and Georgia moving forward.
As we work hard in the days ahead to strengthen Georgia families and businesses, please do not hesitate to call (404.656.5052), e-mail (Jon.Burns@House.Ga.Gov) or engage on Facebook (www.FB.com/JonBurnsGA) with your feedback.