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Budget, session done
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Passage of the FY2011 budget of $17.9 billion marked the final day of the longest-ever session of the General Assembly on Thursday.
Actually this was a productive session highlighted by newfound cooperation between the House and Senate led by new Speaker David Ralston and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle. That leadership produced a far-reaching transportation bill, new ethics legislation and a possible solution to the trauma care financing problem the state faces.

Over the next weeks, this column will analyze the various acts of legislation and provisions and effective dates that were agreed upon this session. This week, it is timely to review the FY11 budget as passed.

FY2011 general budget
The state general funds budget of $17.89 billion represents a decline of about $300 million from the budget first presented by Gov. Perdue back in January. The sliding state revenues over just the past year totaled $1.7 billion and many budget actions actually began last summer with the withholding of allotments to departments by Gov. Perdue’s Office of Planning and Budget, totaling 8 percent on average. When the FY10 budget was reduced due to the fall in state revenues, the governor reduced, in March, the revenue estimate for ’10 by some $342 million by moving stimulus funds forward that had been appropriated for FY11.  

This reduction, accompanied by budget cuts, balanced the ’10 budget, which ends in June. But moving the stimulus funds forward from FY11 created a double hole in the FY11 budget. This is because each budget year starts where the previous one ends … so if the state misses the revenue estimate in June, the new budget year is based on an incorrect figure. The FY11 budget started behind — not just $342 million in stimulus funds the governor moved forward, but twice that amount since the stimulus funds were added into the FY11 revenue.
Part of the deficit was made up in funds created by fee updates and other initiatives.
• $288 million in funds generated by the securitization of GEFA water and sewer loans
• $96 million in user fees updated by legislation
• $229 million in hospital provider fees
• $23.5 million from legislation implementing streamlined sales tax collections.
• $40 million in expected new collections from the hiring of new fraud agents and auditors in the Department of Revenue.

Major budget items
This budget has no surprises in k-12 cuts. There are no additional cuts to the QBE formula beyond the $527 million in the governors’ recommendation.

The Board of Regents cut totals about $140 million, which is much less that earlier “doomsday” fears.

The median cut to state agencies is about 7 percent or about 16.6 percent cumulative since FY09.  
• $3.5 million in new funds for business recruitment to bring jobs to Georgia
• 2,000 new slots in the lottery funded Pre-K Program
• $42.1 million in new funds for Behavioral Health to fully staff mental hospitals
• $10.5 million for counties to replace ad valorem taxes lost due to Land Reforestation Act
• $15 million in Lottery funds to initiate the College Opportunity Grant
• $500,000 in state Airport Aid Funds to draw down $20 million in federal funds

Major cut restorations
• $790,735 Funding restored for the Governors Arts Council
• Funding cuts restored for Career Technical Training and Ag Education
• Funding restored for the Governor’s Honors Program
• Lottery funds restored for most of the Pre-school Coordinators
• Saved RESA’s and Educational Technology Centers
• Restored funds for Alzheimer’s Families Respite Care

If you would like additional information regarding a specific piece of legislation, you may access the Georgia General Assembly Web site at and enter the specific bill number in the top right hand corner of your screen. Additionally, the state budget is available by accessing the Senate Budget and Evaluation Office Web site.
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