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Presenting a tight budget
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The fiscal year 2011 general budget is based on the state general fund and motor fuel revenues equal to $16.8 billion. The FY11 general revenue estimate is 8.1 percent above the FY10 amended budget and includes nearly $1.26 billion in growth and new revenues.  

A 1.6 percent care management organization and hospital provider fee generates $345 million, $287 million would be gained by the securitization of GEFA loans for local water infrastructure investments, and the remaining $624 million would come from the 4 percent projected growth in revenues over FY10. The FY11 revenue estimate is a 16.52 percent decline, equal to a $3.3 billion shortfall, from the original FY09 general budget of $20.1 billion.

K-12 education
• Increases funds for enrollment growth and teacher training at $121.1 million (0.67 percent enrollment growth.
• Increases funds for 700 new school buses with a $50 million bond (this would replace the $24.7 million cut from pupil transportation)
• Reduces the QBE formula by $527 million and increases the TRS employer contribution from 9.74 percent to 10.28 percent at a cost of $43 million
• Reduces $70.5 million in ARRA, The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, for a net cut of 7 percent (when adjusting the local 5 mill share)
• Reduces funds for the school nutrition program by $9.7 million (25 percent cut), partially offset by $4.4 million in ARRA funds
• Reduces the school nurses program by $1.6 million (5.5 percent cut)
• Reduces funds for technology and career education by $1.6 percent (10 percent cut) and changes the equalization grant formula to reduce the state’s obligation by 3 mills
• Recommends $118 million in bonds for construction and maintenance projects which is $34.8 million less than the Department of Education requested
• Eliminates funding for the Georgia Youth Science and Technology Fund ($250,000), Educational Technology Centers ($3.6 million), Regional Educational Service Agencies ($12.1 million), the National Science Center and Foundation ($500,000), and the National Certified Teacher’s Fund ($7.2 million)

Higher education
• Funds formula growth for Regents ($113.2 million) and the Technical College formula ($27.5 million)
• Replaces $3.9 million in state funds with lottery funds for the HERO Scholarship ($800,000), the Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership Program (LEAP) ($967,000), North Georgia Military Scholarship Grants ($1.5 million) and the North Georgia ROTC Grants ($652,000)
• In Lottery funds, increases the HOPE GED by $217,000, the HOPE Grant by $75.9 million, Private School HOPE Scholarships by $35.6 million and Public School Scholarships by $84.5 million
• Reduces funds for Resident Instruction (Teaching program) by $223.8 million and adds $47.6 million in ARRA
• Eliminates the seed capital fund in the Advanced Technology Development Commission ($2.5M) and the Medical College of Georgia’s five-year funding commitment for cancer-related research ($5 million Tobacco)
• Eliminates the Food Industry Program ($1.5 million), Traditional Industries Program ($1.6 million), Vaccine Collaboration Grants ($1.6 million), and the Bio-Refinery ($200,000)
• Eliminates the Engineer Scholarship ($710,000), the Guaranteed Educational Loans Program ($3.2 million), the Promise Scholarship ($5.9 million), the Teacher Scholarship ($5.3 million), and the Tuition Equalization Grants while increasing the Private College HOPE Grant
• Recommends $121 million in bonds for Regents, nearly $250 million less than requested
• Recommends $44.2 million in bonds for the Technical College System of Georgia, roughly $85.1 million less than requested
Next week’s column will include a summary of Gov. Perdue’s FY2011 general budget proposals for Health and Human Services, Department of Corrections, Transportation, and Economic Development.

Senate action last week:
Bills of interest that have recently been introduced in the Senate:
• SB 317: Would prohibit any law or rule from compelling any person, employer or health care provider to participate in any health care system.
• SB 318: Would require an affidavit to accompany a complaint against law enforcement officials.
• SB 320: Would provide for and enact a bill of rights for Georgia teachers.
• SB 323: Would require all final Department of Transportation contracts with private funding sources to designate 30 percent of the contract’s total value to local contractors and small businesses.  
• SB 328: Requires electric suppliers to provide cable companies nondiscriminatory access to electrical facilities.
• SB 330 and SB 331: Prohibits health insurance companies from unjustly canceling health insurance based upon an error or omission. Would allow families to continue covering their dependent children on their health insurance plans through age 25 regardless of whether they are full-time enrolled students. Would eliminate the health insurance practice of placing annual and lifetime caps on the coverage of their insured policy holders. These provisions would also allow small businesses to pool together through association health plans.    

SB 306 passes the Senate
Would prohibit the wearing of any device, except hands-free communication devices, which impairs an individual’s hearing or vision while operating a vehicle.

I may be reached at
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Reidsville office: (912) 557-3811