Georgia’s governors often campaign on their budget plans, and a draft budget is is a governor’s first big act of business every year. But in truth, much of the budget is tied to forces beyond any Georgia governor’s power. This year, those moving parts include a growing number of students who all need teachers or the number of low-income children who are entitled to PeachCare.

Georgia would spend about $11.8 billion on K-12 education, under Republican Gov. Brian Kemp’s spending proposal for the year that begins on July 1, 2023. Combined with spending on universities, technical colleges, pre-K and lottery dollars for scholarships, education would be more than half the budget.

He also proposes about another $8 billion for the departments that handle Georgia’s share of Medicaid spending (which includes PeachCare), plus services for Georgians who have addictive diseases and support for folks who have developmental disabilities.

Those proportions for education and health care are roughly in line with Kemp’s earlier budgets and those of his Republican predecessor, Nathan Deal.

But what leads Kemp’s letter at the top of his proposed budget is midyear tinkering for the year that’s now underway. He proposes taking this year’s budget from a planned $30.2 billion up to about $32.6 billion. The latter number reflects Kemp’s campaign season proposal to spend about $2 billion of reserves in tax breaks for homeowners and taxpayers.

Georgia’s Republican-controlled House and Senate will come up with their own draft budgets in the coming weeks, and all three sides should come to an agreement by about April.

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