ATLANTA – The Georgia Senate unanimously passed a $29.9 billion mid-year state budget Thursday that includes raises for teachers and state employees.
With the state in sound financial shape coming out of the pandemic thanks to growing tax revenues, lawmakers are giving most state workers a $5,000 increase, with the Senate putting up an additional $4,000 raise for adult and juvenile corrections officers to address high turnover.
Teachers are due to get a $2,000 raise, the last installment of a $5,000 increase Kemp promised during the 2018 campaign.
“Georgia’s economy has remained resilient despite challenges on many fronts,” Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Blake Tillery, R-Vidalia, said Thursday. “We continue to add jobs. We continue to add businesses. … It’s reflected in the revenue numbers.”
Besides the pay raises, the mid-year budget covering state spending through June 30 includes $93 million to reflect an increase in public school enrollment reported last fall, $388.2 million to fully fund the state’s K-12 student funding formula and $432.5 million to upgrade the prison system.
“Many of these facilities are very old,” Tillery said. “It’s a safety issue.”
Senators also supported Kemp’s proposal to take advantage of the influx of tax revenue by returning $1.6 billion in rebates to Georgia taxpayers.
Senate changes to the mid-year budget the state House of Representatives adopted last month include $4.1 million to give school nurses $2,000 raises, $20 million for rural downtown development grants and $14.9 million to match an equal amount the House put toward fixing wear and tear at state parks, which have gotten a lot of use during the pandemic.
The mid-year budget now returns to the House, which could either agree with the Senate changes or send the spending plan to a joint conference committee to work out the two chambers’ differences.
This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.