BUDGET WEEK AT THE CAPITOL
BY SEN. BRIAN STRICKLAND,
CHAIRMAN, Senate Judiciary Committee
On Monday of this week, Senate offices were closed in observance of the holiday honoring the life, legacy and vision of Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King's influence on this nation cannot be overstated. His example continues to inspire people around the world, and especially in the state of Georgia, to work towards justice in their communities and beyond.
Though the Senate did not convene in the Senate Chamber this week, many of us were hard at work in the Joint Appropriations Committee hearings here at the Capitol. It is our constitutional duty as a legislature to pass a balanced budget every session and ensure that every taxpayer dollar is used effectively. Below are a few highlights covered in this weeks hearings.
Each year, education in Georgia accounts for over half the state’s budget. This year is no exception. We must continue to invest in our education system at both the K-12 and higher education levels. This year, an additional $745 million is included in the Governor’s budget proposal for the Amended FY 2023 budget and more than $1.1 billion is recommended to be included in the FY 2024 budget. These appropriations will fully fund the Quality Basic Education formula. It is imperative that we continue to build a workforce our growing state needs and that can only be achieved through providing the highest level of education to all Georgians.
Healthcare in Georgia continues to remain a top priority. More specifically, we know that healthcare is a significant cost for many Georgia families that do not have access to benefits provided through their employer. I am pleased to see the FY 2024 budget includes proposals to provide $52 million in funds to implement the Georgia Pathways Coverage program which was established pursuant to the Patients First Act, legislation that was passed in 2019. The Georgia Pathways Coverage program will increase access to adequate health insurance statewide and give Georgia families more accessible resources to provide care for their loved ones.
Next week, the Senate will reconvene Monday through Thursday and many standing committees will begin meeting to address legislation as it begins to make its way through the process. I look forward to the work that we will do as a Senate body this session as we build on the foundation of these critical first few weeks. If you have any questions or ideas, please do not hesitate to reach out to my office.
Senator Brian Strickland
Chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary
To view 2023 Legislative Session Committee Assignments, go to https://www.legis.ga.gov/committees/senate.
RECOMMENDATIONS TO FINISH OUT THIS CURRENT FISCAL YEAR, ENDING JUNE 30, 2023
Undesignated regular surplus funds to be used to provide refund funds for all Georgian taxpayers for the 2022 tax year between $250 and $500.
A one-time grant funding of $155,700,000 to be allocated to K-12 schools to fund school security grants, support learning loss grants and to support paraprofessionals with bachelor's degrees seeking teaching certificates. Additionally, $105,000,000 would implement a state-of-the-art electronic medical records system at the Medical College of Georgia and $129,375,000 for design and construction of new and existing Quick Start facilities to support the electric vehicle industry.
The kitchen at Georgia Regional Hospital in Atlanta would receive $9,905,000 for necessary renovations. A $282,771,933 increase in Medicaid utilization and enrollment growth including $4.5 million to continue the PeachCare premium suspension through the end of the fiscal year. Additionally, $6,428,193 would be utilized for additional Medicaid caseworkers and a management consultant to ensure quality assurance during redeterminations at the expiration of the federal COVID-19 Public Health Emergency. To prepare for the expiration of the federal COVID-19 Publics Health Emergency, $1,965,580 would be utilized for technology and security upgrades to the Integrated Eligibility System (IES).
The Department of Corrections would receive $12,285,433 for physical health and pharmacy contracts as well as $51,495,000 for 33 projects at 19 facilities for repairs and upgrades to life safety and security systems.
The Regional Economic Business Assistance program to receive $166,718534 for large economic development projects and $4,195,000 would be allocated for the equipment and installation associated with a new statewide public safety radio network.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FISCAL YEAR 2024, BEGINNING JULY 1, 2023
A cost-of-living adjustment proposal of $566,966,153 would provide an annual increase of $2,000 to state and Regent employees, Pre-K teachers and assistant teachers, and certified K-12 personnel.
A proposal of $14,035,636 would increase the Pre-K operations grant to allow programs to reallocate funds to lead teacher salaries. Bonds amounting in $22,820,000 would replace 259 school buses. Additionally, $127,180,022 would aid enrollment growth, training and experience to recognize a 0.4% increase in enrollment, bringing the total number of full-time equivalent students funded to 1.74 mmillion students and over 136,000 educators and administrators.
To expand behavioral health and substance abuse crisis capacity, $13,08,198 has been proposed as well as $6,288,973 for additional mobile crisis teams to address increasing demand statewide. Additionally, $6,522,192 would assist the Georgia Board of Health Care Workforce with 102 residency slots in primary care medicine, the creation and administration of loan repayment programs for mental health and medical professionals as well as increase the numbers of physicians and advanced practice nurses.
Bond funds of $26,000,000 would assist emergency maintenance and repairs for the Department of Corrections as well as $25,150,491 for physical and pharmacy services contracts. Additionally, $94,250 would assist the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council for one sexual assault kit tracking system administrator.
Responsible and Efficient Government
To support the operation and maintenance of the TeamWorks Financial and Human Capital Management software, $1,103,825 has been proposed. The Department of Driver Services calls for $454,044 for additional operating expenses for three new customer service centers.
MLK DAY AT THE CAPITOL
On Monday, January 16, the General Assembly was closed in commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy and birthday. Last week, the legislative body celebrated MLK Day on Friday with a special performance from the Atlanta Boy Choir.
Governor Brian Kemp reflected on Martin Luther King's Legacy and reminded Georgians that the holiday is not just another day on the calendar but a reminder that we should honor his legacy by engaging in acts of compassion toward our fellow citizens.
THE GEORGIA LEGISLATIVE AAPI CAUCUS PRESS CONFERENCE
On Tuesday, January 17, the Georgia Legislative Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Caucus, a bipartisan bicameral caucus, held a press conference to announce leadership and legislative priorities for the 2023 Legislative Session. Comprised of 11 members from both the Georgia Senate and the Georgia house, the AAPI Caucus highlighted priorities such as increasing Asian American voter engagement and in-state tuition initiatives for all graduates from Georgia high schools. The caucus looks forward to working with other minority caucuses in addition to their key initiatives.
GOVERNOR KEMP ANNOUNCES SENATE FLOOR LEADERS
On Thursday, January 19, Governor Brian P. Kemp announced his floor leaders for the 2023-2024 General Assembly. Senator Bo Hatchett (R - Cornelia) will continue to serve as a floor leader, having been previously named in 2021. Senator Mike Hodges (R - Brunswick) has been named as a Senate Floor Leader.
In 2023 the Georgia State Senate District 17 will encompass parts of Walton, Newton, Henry, and Morgan with over 150,000 registered voters. Brian Strickland entered his third full term in the Georgia Senate in 2021. Brian, his wife Lindsay, and their two children reside in McDonough, GA. Through Brian’s leadership position at the capitol where he fights for District 17, and all of Georgia, he has impacted Georgia for the better through various executed actions. Not only did Brian support the First Responder bill which aids police, firefighter, and EMS personnel but he was a key player in the passing of the Georgia Criminal Justice reform bills and Georgia Surprise Medical bills. Above and beyond that, Brian labored to bring funding to Southern Crescent Technical College making it one of the top technical schools in Georgia and is constantly raising the bar in the fight against human trafficking.