The Senate this week passed its version of the Amended FY 2012 State Budget.
Totaling $18.5 billion, the amended budget totals are only slightly more than the 2012 general budget.
The budget includes mostly mid-year changes that meet shortfalls such as Medicaid and the County Jail Subsidy. Additionally the amended budget shores up the State Health Benefit Plan for employees, teachers, and retirees and meets increased technology costs for agencies.
The budget includes $189 million in agency cuts and fully funds K-12 enrollment growth and other mid-year educational costs.
Additionally some $987.5 million in prior years’ motor fuel funds are freed up in this budget for road projects including the Northwest Corridor.
$10 million for the One Georgia Program for economic development projects.
$250,000 one time funds for the "Opening Doors to Recovery Project" in Mental Health.
Restored a one-half percent cut to Medicaid and Peachcare providers.
Aided doctors and other providers who treat children of state employees who are transitioning from State Health Benefits Fund to Peachcare.
$4.6 million for the Department of Corrections to convert three pre-release centers to residential substance abuse treatment centers for 600 beds.
Increased funds for fuel for the State Patrol.
Senate suggested phasing in a new downsized K-12 Equalization formula.
Senate added $1.2 million of newborn screening for children with potential disabilities for the "Children First" program.
SB 447 addresses Unemployment Trust Fund Debt
For three years through the recession Georgia has met shortfalls in its Unemployment Trust Fund by borrowing some $736 million from the federal government. These funds were to pay for the state’s obligation for the first weeks of unemployment payments. The state unemployment fund is paid in by businesses in Georgia but the high unemployment during the recession has drained the state fund.
Georgia tax payers are paying the interest on the debt which totaled $21 million in 2011.
But Georgia businesses actually owe the loan back and the state is tasked with finding a payback method and to rebuild the Reserve Fund as well. SB 447, passed by the Senate, outlines how this will be accomplished.
Raises the taxable wage rate to $9,500.
Requires the Department of Labor commissioner to raise the surcharge to 50 percent when there is a debt due the U.S. or less than $1 billion in the UI Trust Fund (the commissioner has already raised the surcharge)
Sets the maximum number of weeks the state pays in benefits at 20 weeks before the federal payment kicks in.
Implements a sliding scale on the number of weeks the state pays which is based on the state’s unemployment rate paying the full 20 weeks if the unemployment rate is 9 percent or higher.
Implements a waiting week before benefits begin.
Georgia Assembly honors Georgia National Guard and families of soldiers KIA
On Feb. 22, 2012 the Senate honored the Georgia National Guard and their families recognizing them in the Chamber for their dedication and sacrifice in protecting our sacred freedoms. They read the names of the 45 Georgians who have died in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Bills passed out of the Senate
If you would like additional information regarding a specific piece of legislation, you may access the Georgia General Assembly website at http://www.legis.ga.gov/
I may be reached at
234 State Capitol, Atlanta, GA 30334
(404) 656-5038 (phone)
(404) 657-7094 (fax)
E-mail at Jack.Hill@senate.ga.gov
Or call toll-free at
1-800-367-3334 day or night
Reidsville office: (912) 557-3811Allows for out-of-state prescriptions to be filled in the state of Georgia. Allows the State Employee Retirement System to invest up to 5 percent in alternative investments over five years. Provides for funeral directors of a crematory to determine if the deceased is a veteran and to communicate this to the appropriate veterans organization to make sure arrangements are made for the cremated remains to be laid at a state or national veterans’ cemetery. Requires any operations costs per year to be included with special purpose sales tax referenda. Estimates for future projects should be tracked. Allows private ponds to raise tilapia fish and to be farmed. It forbids them to be sold as live bait. Requires students to take at least one online class during their public education.Requires that teacher furlough days be scheduled on Mondays and/or Fridays.