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More from FY11 budget
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Medicaid, Peachcare
and Public Health
• Adds $42.1 million to the Department of Behavioral Health to address safety and health concerns
•  Adds $5.6 million to annualize developmental disabilities waivers and $3.3 million to provide for an additional 150 new waivers
•  Provides for $70.9 million for increased hospital reimbursement rates; paid for with the increase in hospital and managed care fees which is dependent on current legislation
•  Reduces Medicaid reimbursement to providers by 1.98 percent ($26.1 million) and reduces funding to reflect FMAP (Federal Medical Assistance Percentage) changes of $22.1M
•  Reduces funds for Medicaid by $45.1 million, due to a projected surplus, and reduces Medicaid and Peachcare funding, due to lower than projected enrollments, by $35.4 million
•  Reduces the Public Health Grant in Aid by $6 million, a 9 percent cut

Corrections and Juvenile Justice
•  Increases funding for private prison bed expansions at Wheeler (750 beds) and Coffee (750 beds) by $18.6 million and adds $8.8 million for 896 new fast track bed expansions at Telfair, Central and Augusta Medical State Prisons, and the Georgia Diagnostics and Classification Prison.
•  Continues the closure of Scott State Prison, Bostick State Prison, and the Bill Ireland Juvenile Facility for a total savings of nearly $20 million
•  Initiates the closure of Montgomery State Prison (August 2010) and the Men’s State Prison in Hardwick (January 2011) for a total savings of $10.3 million
•  Provides for the closure of three probation detention centers in April 2010 ($7.4 million)

Economic Development and Transportation
•  Restores $47 million to the OneGeorgia Grant Fund
•  Provides $300 million in State General Fund bonds for Transportation
•  Reduces debt service for motor fuel funded bonds by $42,784,870, which would allow motor fuel funds to be put towards the Department of Transportation
•  Includes $10 million for the College Football Hall of Fame project in Atlanta and provides for $68.4 million to continue the harbor deepening project for the Savannah port

Next week: The big issues and the bond package

Property tax assessment and appeals reform:
SB 246, introduced by Sen. Chip Rogers, would establish statewide uniformity of assessment notices and appeal forms and require that every property owner receive a notice of assessment each year. Property owners would be allowed to appeal their assessments year-round and any increase in assessments would require a unanimous vote from the county Board of Equalization. The appraised value for a home sold through a standard, “arm’s-length” transaction could not be raised for a year after sale.  

Counties would be allowed to accept payment plans for property taxes that could include a discount for early payment. Tax assessors would be required to include all comparable sales, including foreclosures and bank sales, in determining property value. This legislation does not include any caps on assessments.    

Under Senate consideration:
Bills of interest that have recently been introduced in the Senate:
•  SB 340: Would require all private and public schools to adopt a reporting system for determining HOPE eligibility for freshman, sophomore and junior high students. The Commission would use the reports/transcripts produced by each school to calculate a grade point average and notify parents and high schools of potentially eligible students.  
•  SB 348: Would require each county’s main office of the board of registrars to be open for early voting at least eight hours on at least one Saturday during the early absentee voting period for primaries or general elections.
•  SB 352: Institutes a new grading system for schools to demonstrate progress in student achievement in a “Year of Learning.” Utilizes individual testing in grades 4-8 to determine a school’s grade of A, B, C, D or F.  Establishes bonuses for “A” grades and outlines consequences for “F” grades. Ends the High School Graduation Test and eliminates CRCT testing in grades one and two.    
•  SB 360: Prohibits texting while driving for anyone who is 18 or younger.
•  HB 219: Provides that antifreeze sold in the state must contain a bittering agent, denatonium benzoate, which makes antifreeze unpalatable to animals and people.

Senate action this week
The following legislation passed the Senate:  
•  SB 235: Provides that no person shall be required to be implanted with a microchip.
•  SB 287: States that drivers can be given a new license number when replacing their license.  
•  SB 315: Creates a registry for licensed health care practitioners who can voluntarily treat Georgians in the case of an extreme emergency.
•  SB 319: Expands the definition of a textbook for elementary and secondary education to include digital, computer hardware and technical equipment.     

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