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Revenue growth declines
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The March state revenue report reflected the decline in revenue growth of the last two months and reported an overall minus 1.6 percent figure compared to March 2007.

Again the recent slump in individual income taxes continued, showing a minus 2.1 percent for March. Individual income tax growth has been negative two of the last three months and since these funds equal about half of state revenues, the effect has been a year-to-date overall growth of only 1.6 percent.

This is about half of what will be needed to meet the 2008 budget year estimate ending in June.  If the state misses the projected estimate, the budget will have to be balanced out of the state’s reserve fund. One and 1⁄2 percent of the budget would take about $300 million out of the states $1.5 billion reserve.

Budget highlights
Social Services
•  $10 million - in TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) for child care slots

•  $2.3 million – Assistance for families adopting special needs children

•  $4.1 million – to replace lost federal funds for prevention of elderly abuse and neglect

•  $6.2 million - for 500 new mental retardation slots

•  $9.15 million – annualizing 1,500 new mental retardation slots approved in FY08

•  $1 million - for “Meals on Wheels” to replace lost federal funds

•  $1.4 million - to add 100 Independent Care Waiver slots for the “Money Follows the Person” Demonstration Grant – Removes persons from institutions

•  $1.17 million - state funds to increase ICWP by 75 slots

•  $250,000 - to fund the Mental Health Ombudsman attached to the governor’s office

•  $815,000 - Funds for Family Violence Centers

•  $13.6 million increased funds for Mental Health Services

•  $560,000 - to fund children in Prostitution Treatment Program

•  $229,513 - to contract for services to the blind through the Helen Keller National Center     

Bills passed
Health and Human Services
The following bills and resolutions passed the Senate in the final week of the 2008 Georgia General Assembly:
• SB 433 – Certificate of Need Revision
• Exempts many types of construction not medical service
• Raises to $2.5 million that hospitals can spend on improvements outside CON
• Removes CON bed limits for at-capacity hospitals.
• Exempts adult diagnostic cardiac catherization.
• Exempts high quality therapeutic cardiac catherization.
• Modifies CON criteria for basic perinatal OB services
• Allows nursing homes to divide into two entities outside CON
• Raises imaging service exemption to $1 million
• Makes several changes to CON involving Ambulatory Service Centers
• Allows special exemption to allow national cancer treatment facility to locate in Georgia

• SB 507 – Insures disabled children receive therapy services under the EPSDT exam program

• SB 549 – Creates a coordinated two-level system of stroke care in Georgia

• HB 1041 – Requires a criminal background check for registered nurses application

• HB 1105 – Requires hospitals to offer vaccinations for flu and pneumonia during October – March to seniors 65 and older

• HB 1234 – CMO Reform Bill – Addresses issues with reimbursement, emergency health services and claims issues, including newborn children and mothers and appeals processes. Requires CMOs to have an interactive Web site for claims submission and establishes time frames for payment to providers. Also the bill insures wide dental coverage through inclusion of dentists. Complaints or claims appeals would be heard by an administrative law judge.

Next week’s column will include more bills from Sine Die and details on the FY09 budget. For more information about the FY09 budget, visit:

To find out more about any legislation, visit the Legislature’s home page at