Current News

/

ArcaMax

Gov. Kemp signs Georgia budget with Capitol Hill renovation, record new spending

James Salzer, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on

Published in News & Features

ATLANTA — Gov. Brian Kemp signed a record midyear budget Thursday that would pay for massive renovations on Capitol Hill, a new medical school at the University of Georgia, miles and miles of roads, extra grants for rural airports, local water and sewer projects, and rural economic development programs.

Much of the budget includes what Kemp proposed to lawmakers in January, and the measure would increase spending $5.5 billion, even though state tax collections have been slow for much of the past year and are not projected to improve anytime soon.

But with $16 billion in “rainy day” and undesignated reserves, Kemp and lawmakers saw the midyear budget — which runs through June 30 — as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to improve state infrastructure, paying cash for a host of projects that typically take lawmakers years to fund.

The House and Senate passed the $37.9 billion midyear spending plan Monday.

“I am proud to sign a budget that further invests in our priorities of public safety, education and workforce development, and strengthened infrastructure to keep Georgia the best state to live, work and raise a family,” Kemp said. “When you add everything in this document up, it demonstrates you can make smart investments when you budget wisely, trust the market rather than try to dictate it, and empower your citizens more than you empower the government.”

The money the state collects in taxes helps pay for K-12 schools, colleges, public health care, prisons, policing, business regulation, roads and a host of other services.

The budget covers a range of major infrastructure and education projects, including a new medical school at UGA, a new dental school at Georgia Southern University, large-scale computer system upgrades, more money for sewer improvements and massive spending on building roads. The state would spend an additional $1.5 billion alone on road building and maintenance.

A late add Monday was nearly $400 million to build a new legislative office building across from the Capitol and renovate the Statehouse. That was made possible by Kemp deciding revenue collections will be better than originally forecasted during the first half of 2024. Lawmakers can’t budget more money than the governor estimates will come in.

 

The state will spend $37.5 million on renovations at the Atlanta Farmers Market, and $436.7 million would go for a new state-of-the-art prison in Washington County. Lawmakers added $19 million to improve security in prisons.

The midyear budget includes $29.25 million for public safety and infrastructure costs related to the 2026 FIFA World Cup and 2025 College Football Playoff National Championship events in Atlanta.

The chambers went along with Kemp’s proposal to spend $500 million propping up the state’s pension system for retired state workers. Lawmakers have said they hope that will mean in the future a return to providing cost-of-living increases for retirees, something they have rarely received since 2008.

Lawmakers omitted $5 million from the budget that Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office had sought for technology to double-check the accuracy of computer ballot counts.

The technology would have scanned the text of voters’ choices to verify that ballot scanners tabulated votes correctly from QR codes. Senate Republicans objected to the funding after Raffensperger’s staff took offense to a question over whether his employees would benefit financially from the project.

_____


©2024 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Visit at ajc.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Comments

blog comments powered by Disqus