Reviewing the state budget

Published 8:57 pm Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Randy Nix
Nix represents Troup Co. in the Georgia House of Representatives

This week at the state capitol, we also took up several pieces of legislation on the House floor, including the Fiscal Year 2019 state budget, which is one of the most important bills that we will pass all session.

This year’s state budget is $50.85 billion and will guide our state’s spending from July 1, 2018, to June 30, 2019. The FY 2019 budget was determined by a state revenue estimate of $26 billion, which is an increase of $1.03 billion, or 4.1 percent, over last year’s budget. The balance of the budget is federal funds and other non-state generated revenues.

The House Rural Development Council’s (RDC) work during the summer and fall of 2017 has driven much of this year’s legislative agenda, and as a result of the RDC’s comprehensive study of the issues plaguing rural Georgia, the FY 2019 budget allocates state funding toward a wide range of initiatives to assist our rural communities.

Additionally, the FY 2019 budget includes appropriations for various programs for rural Georgia’s children, such as funding for soft skills training and character education development for rural Georgia’s lowest performing schools; a mobile audiology clinic to provide audiological care to children in rural Georgia; and birth-to-five literacy and numeracy in rural Georgia. I am proud that the House has prioritized state dollars to support and revitalize our rural communities, and these allocations for our rural communities will help rural Georgia, as well as our state as a whole, to thrive.

Each year, education funding is always one of the largest budget items in the state budget, and this year is no exception, with 55.9 percent of the entire budget allocated to education.

First and foremost, the FY 2019 budget includes $119.5 million for K-12 enrollment growth for an additional 6,552 students and 1,869 teachers across the state, and $361.7 million for the Teachers Retirement System.

Additionally, the state budget allots $1.6 million for a student mental health awareness training program, including response and intervention training, for students in preschool through 12th grade.

Finally, one of the most important education appropriations included in the FY 2019 budget was $8 million for school security grants to improve security in Georgia’s schools, which was added to the budget in light of one of the deadliest school shootings in recent history. This funding is instrumental in helping to protect Georgia’s students, teachers and school staff members, and we hope that our Senate counterparts will join us in adding supplementary school security funding as well.