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Education gains in budget
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A look at education spending in the fiscal year 2009 budget
K-12 education budget items
QBE formula increase of $218 million.

K-12 education funding totals $8.2 billion, which is about 30 percent of the total state budget not counting bonds for capital outlay. Capital outlay funds totaled over $300 million over the 2008 amended and the 2009 general budgets.

Included in the 2009 budget:
•  $179.5 million for a 2.5 percent pay increase for teachers effective Sept. 1, school bus drivers and food service workers, July 1.

• Funds to increase the retirement payment to school bus drivers and food service employees from $14.25 to $14.75 per month for each year of service.

• $50 million to continue to reduce the austerity reduction in FTE formula funds by $50 million lowering the reduction to about $90 million yearly.

• $30 million over the two budgets for equalization for a one-time payment to fully fund the formula. A total of $109 in new funding was added in FY 09.  Legislation to change the formula did not pass in the 2008 session.

• Funds to increase the number of lottery funded pre-K slots to 79,000 children.

• Existing funds through transfers were used to create a Math Mentoring program for improving the teaching skills of math teachers. A similar program for science teachers has helped Georgia’s science test scores, DOE believes.

• Funds for 2,265 new students to enroll in the State Virtual Charter School, a K-8 Virtual School.

• $384,375 to begin a program to provide virtual foreign language instruction to elementary school children.

• $1.8 million in new funds to increase the number of Virtual School classes to 6,500 high school students.
Education legislation
SB 345 — Georgia would join with other states to address issues for children of deployed military families that are peculiar to families that move around due to military assign-
ments. Issues include eligibility, educational records and enrollment, attendance and graduation.

HB 881 — Creates a Charter School Commission to recommend charter schools including appeals of those not endorsed by local school boards. Commission may pursue grants and other funding and will serve as a conduit for state grants to charter schools, equalization grants and other funding mechanisms.

HB 1209 — Allows voluntary contracts between the state Board of Education and local systems that allow for flexibility from some state laws and regulations in return for performance goals commitments.
Higher Education – Board of Regents
The Board of Regents budget totals $2.13 billion for 2009, about 10 percent of the state budget.

New funding for FY 09:
• Regents formula growth funding of $115.5 million.

• Maintenance, repairs and renovations funding of $60 million in bonds.

• Capital outlay funding totaling $223 million.

• $2.5 million for Venture Capital Funding through the Georgia Research Alliance to be matched by private funds.

• Adds research specialists — food security microbiologist, entomologist, a peanut entomologist and a soybean agronomist.

• $25,000 in new operating funds for the Vidalia Onion Research Center

• $1 million to match donated funds of $1 million for two eminent scholars at Georgia Southern and Kennesaw State.

The Board of Regents announced an additional matched eminent scholar at Georgia Southern as well.
Addendum to last week’s March revenue report
• Year to date all of the specific categories of sales tax collections excluding food are negative, including utilities.

• Year to Date, the amount of state sales taxes that flow to the state (not remitted to counties) is up only $506,000….sales taxes are one third of the states total revenues.

• Higher gasoline prices are not resulting in increased revenue to the state… excise and sales taxes from fuel are up YTD only $18 million.

Reminder: All changes to budget subject to review/veto by the governor.