As I look back at the 2019 Session and review both legislation and the FY 2020 Budget, I still see bills I want to discuss and also pass on information about budget items that you may find of interest. So, here is an accumulation of areas that may not constitute a whole column but are important.
– HB 525-Reconstitutes the Georgia International and Maritime Trade Center as the Savannah Convention Center and designates the trade center to be a public corporation and an instrumentality of the State while the principal office and operations center will be in Savannah. Changes the make-up of the Board to give the governor 6 appointees and the local legislative delegation appointive power for 3 appointees along with the presidents of the Savannah Economic Development Authority and the Savannah Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. Will be operated much like the World Congress Center in Atlanta.
– $13.7 million in bonds to fund the expansion of the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center
– $300,000-to the Department of Economic Development for the Ga. Council for the Arts to establish a facilities grant program for local arts organizations... requires local match
– $150,000 to restore visitor information center grants in rural areas...requires local match
– $50,000 for facility improvements for the MLK Jr Center for Nonviolent Social Change
Transportation – Naming roads
– HR 346-Names a number of bridges and roads for Georgians including five nursing students from Georgia Southern University who were killed in a tragic highway accident on I-16 in Bryan County on April 22, 2015. The bridge over I-16 at U.S. 280 at Exit 143 will be named “The Georgia Southern Nursing Angels Memorial Bridge” in honor of Caitlyn Baggett, Morgan Bass, Emily Clark, Abbie Deloach and Catherine McKay Pittman.
– SR 67-Also names a number of roads and bridges for Georgians including an interchange at I-20 and U.S. 221 in Columbia County for retired Senator Bill Jackson and the bridge at Lee Street over I-20 in Fulton County for Henry “Hammering Hank” Aaron.
– $2.0 Billion for DOT for Roads and Bridges in the FY 2020 Budget
– $1.0 million increase for Airport Aid
– $121,413 to DOT for one waterway assistant program manager position to support the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project
– $221,882-to DOT to increase bridge inspections for state-owned railroad assets
– Item No. 345.2 in the FY 2020 Budget directs DOT to conduct an assessment of roads and bridges in state parks as well as driveways and decel lanes at public schools and report back to the Appropriations Committees.
Funding for public libraries
The Legislature has over the years been a staunch supporter of public libraries and furnished the state portion of construction and renovations of many libraries across the state utilizing a priority list provided by the State Library Board. Additionally, funding has been developed in the Legislature for Maintenance and Repairs, Technology and Repurposing of Facilities. And this Session, new funding was appropriated for books and reading materials.
The Senate Leadership has always supported funding for local public libraries and has advanced the belief that local libraries should be the center of community activities for all ages.
FY 2020 library funding
– $197,745 In FY 2020 Budget for increase in New Directions Formula funding based on an increase in state population
– $544,761 in the FY 2020 Budget added by House and Senate for an increase of $0.35 per capita for books and materials for libraries
– $2.63 million in bonds to fund Technology improvements in public libraries statewide
– $3.0 million in bonds for Major Repair and Renovations in public libraries statewide per a priority list
– $1.49 million in bonds for repurpose grants for these libraries: Westtown, Phase I, Woodbine, Statham, Swindle, Bowman, Richmond Hill and statewide.
– $415,000 in bonds for design, construction and equipment for expansion of the Auburn Branch Library
– $1.04 million in bonds for design, construction and equipment for expansion of the Kinchafoonee Regional Library, Georgetown.
– $1.9 million in bonds for the design, construction and equipment for major renovations and expansion of the Watkinsville Library
– $900,000 in bonds for the design, construction and equipment for the renovation of the Okefenokee Regional Library, Baxley.