Unlike the federal government, Georgia lawmakers are required to pass a balanced budget. We work diligently during the legislative session to ensure that tax dollars are spent in a fiscally conservative manner that reflects your priorities and values.
After honoring the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the House and Senate appropriations committees and subcommittees gathered last week for a series of joint budget hearings to vet Governor Deal’s budget recommendations and begin the process of crafting budgets for amended fiscal year 2016 and fiscal year 2017.
Thanks to bold leadership in state government, Georgia has experienced strong economic growth coupled with a continued rise in population. The governor’s amended fiscal year 2016 budget proposal, which uses a more accurate estimate of state revenue, includes over $100 million for K-12 education, additional funding to support IT needs in local school systems, and $14.9 million to improve internet connectivity and other digital resources for teachers, students, and staff.
The governor’s budget proposal also includes $30 million to assist local students who want to attend our state’s colleges and universities. With the number of Zell Miller Scholars growing rapidly, this additional funding will account for the increase in eligible Georgians.
As mentioned during his “State of the State” address earlier this month, Governor Deal’s 2017 budget includes $300 million for local school districts to give pay raises to K-12 educators, eliminate furlough days or increase instruction days. The governor’s budget also includes funding to increase the salaries of Pre-K teachers and their assistants.
I am reviewing the governor’s proposal closely as the budget committee process unfolds. My goal is to help our teachers and school systems get the support they need.
With a 25 percent decrease in population at juvenile justice facilities around the state, it is clear that criminal justice reform is working in Georgia. To continue moving forward, Gov. Deal’s FY17 budget calls for additional funding for juvenile incentive grants. Gov. Deal’s budget also recommends additional support to expand educational initiatives like the GED fast track, vocational, and general education programs in the state prison system.
As our economy and population grows, our transportation needs do as well. The Governor’s budget proposal for FY17 appropriates over $800 million to help maintain and improve the state’s roads and bridges. I am proud of my colleagues for prioritizing our state’s transportation needs last session. This funding will keep commuters and commerce moving safely and efficiently throughout Georgia, and it will enable us to invest in much needed road improvements in local our area. In fact, this week we will announce new road construction projects in District 159. Stay tuned for more details.
As we continue the long and laborious task of crafting the state’s budget, I am ever mindful of the needs in District 159. If you would like to weigh in during the budgeting process or simply need a hand in dealing with a state issue, please do not hesitate to call (404.656.5052), e-mail (Jon.Burns@House.Ga.Gov) or engage on Facebook (www.FB.com/JonBurnsGA).
Jon Burns represents District 159 in the Georgia General Assembly, where he serves as the House Majority Leader.