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Senate passes FY17 budget
Hill Jack
Sen. Jack Hill

Last week the Senate passed its version of the fiscal year 2017 budget by a vote of 53 to 2. The $23.7 billion budget represents growth of approximately 4.3 percent over the revenue estimate in the FY16 amended. This budget includes an additional net $612 million in fuel funds produced by HB 170 being appropriated to transportation.

Major budget items:

• $8.91 billion total appropriations for K-12 education, including $300 million in new QBE funds intended for pay raises for teachers. Additionally, the House and the Senate funded a 3 percent raise for bus drivers, school nurses and nutrition workers.

• Rural health care: $500,000 for charity clinics statewide and $300,000 to start a patient centered medical home grant program. There is approximately $26 million in appropriations to provide for reimbursement increases for OB-GYN and primary care providers for Medicaid patients.

• The Senate has added an additional 4 percent salary increase for public health Registered Nurses and for LPNs, resulting in a total 10 percent raise.

• 3 percent merit-based pay increase for state employees, as well as additional pay increases for critical state employee areas with high turnover such as correctional officers and nurses.

• A one-time payment to ERS retirees of 3 percent following ERS board policy for benefit level.

• $10 million for Invest-Georgia to provide venture capital in order to keep start-up high technology companies in Georgia creating jobs

• Increases funds by $500,000 for Meals on Wheels for senior citizens, providing 28,735 new meals.

• $7.645 million for statewide CTAE vocational equipment grants for middle and high schools.

• Increases number of GBI agents by 24, as well as adding five new scientists.

• Funds 167 new slots for seniors who want to move out of nursing homes.

Bond projects affecting the 4th District

• $4.87 million for renovation of the computer and network operation center at Georgia Southern University.

• $3.75 million for design and construction for infrastructure development for south campus at Georgia Southern University.

• $1 million in bonds for rehabilitation of the Nunez to Vidalia rail line.

Legislation passed by the Senate last week

• HB 172-Removes DUI charge from floating on rafts no more than 100 feet from shore on a lake, pond, or other nonflowing body of water. (49-1)

• HB 370-Grants a grace period for campaign contribution disclosure reports and personal financial disclosure statement filings required by this chapter between Jan. 1, 2010, and Jan. 10, 2014, and removes fines previously assessed. Every elected county official, every elected member of a local board of education and every elected municipal official would be given until Dec. 31, 2016 to file such reports. (47-6)

• HB 697-Prohibits businesses from requiring payment for an unsolicited shipment of merchandise without affirmative permission. (50-0)

• HB 767-Requires motorists to move over or slow down when passing stationary utility service vehicles. (52-1)

• HB 840-Requires a permit to authorize the use of wildlife in film and television production. (42-11)

• HB 859-Allows the concealed carry of handguns on college campuses by adult permit holders of ages 21 years and older, excluding sporting venue locations and student housing. Additional charges may be considered in separate legislation. (37-17)

• HB 886-Allows specialty pharmacies under state law to ship medications in accordance with state laws with federal code. (50-0)

February revenues require closer review

February’s revenues came in at 32 percent over February of a year ago. DOR is relating that due to the threat of fraud, the department slowed refunds, so the month is showing an artificially high gain for the month, at 72.5% or $214.3 million for Individual Income Taxes. The picture will be clearer when refunds flow at a normal rate probably catching up this month or in April. What is clear, however, is that net sales tax collections for the month were down 6.6 percent. Fuel tax revenues including fees remained consistent at $67.4 million.

Full transcripts of bills may be found at . Simply type the bill number into the box at the top left-hand corner of the screen and specify if it is in the House or the Senate. As always, I welcome any questions you may have.

I may be reached at
234 State Capitol, Atlanta, GA 30334
(404) 656-5038 (phone)
(404) 657-7094 (fax)
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Or call toll-free at
1-800-367-3334 day or night
Reidsville office: (912) 557-3811