The Georgia House almost unanimously approved Thursday its proposed amended fiscal year spending plan through June 30, adding billions in additional spending following yet another massive surplus in tax revenue.
House Bill 18 is a $32.6 billion budget that would increase spending by nearly $2.4 billion, or 8%, from what lawmakers passed last year, and utilizes a billion dollars of the record $6.6 billion in surplus to give homeowners a one-time additional homestead exemption of $18,000. Gov. Brian Kemp said the exemption should result in an average of about $500 in savings. Another $1.1 billion from that surplus will backfill transportation funding after a 10-month suspension of the gas tax to fight inflation.
The amended fiscal year 2023 bill passed 170-1.
“It’s the second year in a row that Georgia has experienced tremendous growth in this amended budget,” House Appropriations Chair Matt Hatchett (R-Dublin) said while presenting the bill. “Our state has a long history of conservative fiscal management and this year is no exception.”
Georgia’s budget spends nearly $3,000 per person on everything from road infrastructure and K-12 education to agricultural inspectors and health care, and much of the increased funding is directed toward one-time expenses such as new battery backups for the state’s voting machines, increased benefits for retirees and upgrading safety for domestic violence shelters.
The House also fully funded the state’s education formula, approved $60,000 school safety grants and established a $37.5 million “Rural Workforce Housing Fund,” reallocating leftover funds from the OneGeorgia Authority to help tackle Kemp’s proposal to address possible workforce housing shortages accompanying massive economic development projects that have recently been announced in the state.
Speaking of development, the amended fiscal year budget also includes funds to expand the Quick Start training center program through the Technical College System of Georgia that will create customized training programs to prepare Georgians to work for new electric vehicle plants in Newton, Bryan and Chatham counties.
“I believe we put together a document that takes advantage of the additional resources we have and uses them wisely on one-time expenses,” Hatchett said. “Whether it’s ensuring the safety of our children in school, guaranteeing that state agencies have the tools and the people they need to provide the services that Georgians expect or providing tax relief to our citizens, this budget and the $2 billion in new revenue go a long way in meeting the needs of Georgians.”
The AFY budget now heads over to the Senate, while the House continues work on the spending plan for the next fiscal year beginning July 1.
This story comes to The Current GA through a reporting partnership with GPB News, a non-profit newsroom covering the state of Georgia.