By: Lehman Franklin, Georgia State Representative, 160th District
Last week we passed HB18 which was the Amended Fiscal Year 2023 Budget. Its important that you know what is in the budget and how this will help our community.
House Bill 18, the Amended Fiscal Year 2023 budget, is set by a revenue estimate of $32.56 billion – an increase of $2.36 billion, or 7.8%, over the original FY 2023 budget. This is the second year in a row the state has experienced such tremendous growth in an amended budget. The House utilizes these additional funds to support one-time needed investments in technology and capital projects; safety and security projects; economic development projects; as well as human capital investment.
Below I will highlight some of the budget items by topic:
- HB 18 provides $150,000 in the Department of Agriculture for the Tifton Veterinary Laboratory to recommission accredited operations as well as $249,800 for the Georgia Poultry Labs to upgrade robotic equipment and replace five high-mileage vehicles.
- The Amended FY 2023 budget provides $766,812 to implement the ‘Georgia Raw Dairy Act’ (2022 Session).
- The House agrees with the governor to provide $166.7 million in the Department of Community Affairs to fund large economic development projects in the state, including the commitments to Rivian and Hyundai.
- The House supports the governor’s recommendation to repurpose $35.7 million in unutilized grants in the OneGeorgia Authority to establish the Rural Workforce Housing Fund.
- The House version of the Amended FY 2023 budget reallocates $5 million from the Rural Innovation Fund to match the $65 million federal grant for the Georgia Artificial Intelligence Manufacturing (GA AIM) Project benefiting Southwest Georgia.
- HB 18 redirects $7 million to the Georgia World Congress Center Authority (GWCCA) to renovate nine escalators. The center averages more than 3 million visitors annually and has a yearly economic impact of $1.6 billion.
- The House supports community and economic development across the state with the addition of $1 million to complete the construction of the Savannah Convention Center expansion; $650,000 for the Savannah Logistics Innovation Center to support the logistics and supply chain industry; and $77,610 for the Georgia Historical Society to maintain markers. 2 February 2, 2023
- The Amended FY 2023 budget provides an additional $1.3 million to the Georgia Forestry Commission for vehicle purchases and increased fuel expenses related to forest management and fire protection.
- HB 18 provides $128.2 million to the Department of Education (DOE) for the Quality Basic Education (QBE) midterm adjustment to reflect an increase in 12,939 students (or 0.75%) over last year. The formula also funds $322,608 in growth for charter system and local charter school grants; $16.8 million in growth for the state charter school supplement reflecting four additional schools; and $7.4 million in growth for the Special Needs Scholarship.
- HB 18 includes $138.8 million in school security grants in the amount of $60,000 per school, allowing local school systems flexibility in allocating funds system-wide to enhance security. This grant is similar to the $30,000 provided to each school in Amended FY 2019, which funded reinforced entrances, security cameras, electronic locks, call buttons, metal detectors, gates, and radio systems.
- The Amended FY 2023 budget includes $5 million for reimbursable grants for paraprofessionals who are enrolled, on or after January 1, 2023, and earn a certificate through a Georgia Teacher Academy for Preparation and Pedagogy (GaTAPP) program. A paraprofessional must have a bachelor’s degree and currently work in a public school to qualify. The reimbursement would cover the full cost of the GaTAPP program.
- HB 18 includes $1.25 million for a state match for a new character education program grant at $50,000 per school.
- The Amended FY 2023 budget directs the Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) to utilize existing funds to expand the Summer Transition Program. The Summer Transition Program helps students close achievement gaps and overcome learning loss.
- The Amended FY 2023 budget provides $3.5 million to the Professional Standards Commission to overhaul its educator certification and ethics system to provide better efficiency and improved security.
- The Amended FY 2023 budget provides Georgians with Homeowner Tax Relief Grants (HTRG) and aligns the exemption benefit amount with the maximum allowed in the Georgia Constitution.
- The House version of the budget includes $14.5 million for a one-time benefit adjustment for retired state employees. This is in addition to any cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) provided by the Employees’ Retirement System Board of Trustees.
- The Department of Banking and Finance receives more than $500,000 to purchase and implement software that automates the agency’s licensing processes. This software will improve efficiency, alleviate employee workloads, and improve customer experience.
- The Amended FY 2023 budget includes nearly $4.7 million in the Department of Administrative Services (DOAS) to account for projected increases in property insurance claim expenses.
- HB 18 includes $1.1 million to supplement previously appropriated funds to build a Department of Driver Services customer service center in Douglasville due to rising construction costs. 3 February 2, 2023
- The House version of the Amended FY 2023 budget supports the governor’s recommendation to add $92 million for the reinsurance program to account for projected increase in claim reimbursements.
- The House budget adds $500,000 to the Department of Labor to address necessary repairs and renovations at offices statewide.
- The House version of the Amended FY 2023 budget includes $1.5 million in the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to complete the construction of the Jekyll Island Public Safety Complex. The budget also provides $4.2 million to DNR as part of an effort to implement a new statewide public safety radio network.
- HB 18 includes $15 million appropriated to the Georgia Building Authority (GBA) for the demolition of unoccupied state properties, which will allow the state to save taxpayer dollars on maintenance and insurance expenses. GBA will also utilize over $8.2 million for a statewide assessment of facilities under the responsibility of the Department of Corrections and the Department of Juvenile Justice as well as $500,000 for a space utilization assessment for the General Assembly.
- In the Amended FY 2023 budget, the House provides the Elections Division of the Secretary of State’s Office with $4.9 million to replace batteries for voting machines, to implement a secure ballot image capture library, and to improve the Georgia Registered Voter Information System. Additionally, the Secretary of State’s Investigations Division receives $120,000 to replace six vehicles that have maintenance expenses that exceed the value of the vehicle.
- In addition to supporting the governor’s recommendation of $120,963 for protest hearings services rendered by the Office of State Administrative Hearings, the House version of the Amended FY 2023 budget provides the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission with $190,000 for vehicles and equipment as well as $250,000 for the purchase of seed-to-sale software.
- HB 18 recognizes $491.2 million in savings in the Department of Community Health in the Medicaid programs due to a temporary 6.2% increase in the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency.
- The Amended FY 2023 budget provides $250.8 million for growth in the Medicaid programs to meet the projected need resulting from increased utilization and enrollment during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- In the State Health Benefit Plan (SHBP), the House agrees with the governor to increase the employer contribution per-member per-month (PMPM) rate for certified school employees from $945 to $1,580 starting January 1, 2023. HB 18 provides a total of $424.8 million for this increase in the Department of Education budget and reflects the premium revenues in SHBP. Additionally, the House provides $100 million to support the plan and reflect a three-year phase-in of an increase in the employer contribution PMPM for non-certified school employees, effective January 1, 2024.
- The Amended FY 2023 budget recognizes $188 million in prior and current year funds from the ‘American Rescue Plan Act’ of 2021 for home and community-based services to support the state spending plan through FY 2025 that includes provider rate enhancements, rate studies, expanded services, workforce development and training, and infrastructure support for case management and data reporting. 4 February 2, 2023
- HB 18 provides $4.5 million in PeachCare for Kids to continue a premium suspension through June 30, 2023.
- The Amended FY 2023 budget provides more than $1 million for St. Francis Hospital to support the new internal medicine and psychiatric residency programs.
- HB 18 includes $105 million in the Board of Regents for the Medical College of Georgia Hospitals and Clinics, Georgia’s only public teaching hospital, to implement a new electronic medical record (EMR) system. A new EMR system enables doctors to electronically prescribe medications, improves hospital communication with other health systems, allows patients to access to their own medical records, provides for better telehealth integration, and increases efficiency through streamlined insurance billing and revenue collection.
- $1.16 million is provided in the Agricultural Experiment Station budget for the Integrated Precision Agriculture Demonstration Farm in Perry. The demonstration farm provides the agriculture industry an opportunity to showcase new innovative technologies, allowing Georgia farmers to see new products that may allow them to more efficiently respond to market and labor demands. The facility will be maintained with revenue generated through a fee paid by industry members. Also included is $100,000 for a vertical farming greenhouse study, which will inform the University of Georgia College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences on what research and industry outreach to pursue.
- The House version of the budget includes $5.7 million for the Middle Georgia State University Aviation Program to purchase aircraft and build t-hangars. This funding, along with the $2.1 million in the base for operations, will allow the program to increase enrollment in both the flight school and aircraft maintenance technical (AMT) program.
- The House version of the budget includes $405,000 for additional staff at the Georgia Student Finance Commission to support commission operations and student access to financial aid programs. The commission has been tasked with implementing and transitioning new and existing programs, such as the College Completion Grants program, the HOPE High School Equivalency Exam program, new HOPE Career Grant program areas, and the Behavioral Health Service Cancelable Loan program as established in HB 1013 (2022 Session).
- HB 18 includes $6.25 million in the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) for the design of an electric vehicle training center in Newton County, $56.2 million to complete an electric vehicle Quick Start training center in Bryan County, and $10.625 million for the expansion of a Quick Start training center in Chatham County to support electric vehicle manufacturing.
- In the Amended FY 2023 budget, the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD) receives $9.9 million to renovate the kitchen at Georgia Regional Hospital in Atlanta and $4 million to renovate a patient treatment mall at East Central Regional Hospital in Augusta. Additionally, the House budget restores $1.97 million to open offline psychiatric beds at Georgia Regional Hospital.
- HB 18 includes $2 million for contract psychiatric beds and $825,000 to address homelessness in the Atlanta area. 5 February 2, 2023
- The Inclusive Postsecondary Education (IPSE) program receives $100,000 for technology infrastructure and environmental adaptations for enrolled students.
- The Georgia Department of Human Services (DHS) receives $5 million to provide alternative housing options for youth with complex needs in the care of the Division of Family and Children Services.
- The Amended FY 2023 budget includes $8.4 million for staffing and technology needed for Medicaid redetermination due to the Public Health Emergency.
Public Safety and Courts
- The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) receives $3.5 million in the Amended FY 2023 budget to maintain operations of the Georgia Crime Information Center (GCIC) and to offset a reduction in user fee collections.
- The House version of HB 18 provides $56.4 million in new funding for the Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC) to make needed repairs, security upgrades, and renovations to its aging infrastructure. The average GDC facility is 35 years old, and a number of structural and mechanical systems have reached end of life. This appropriation provides necessary technology and security enhancements to keep both inmates and correctional staff safe. Upgrades include $19.9 million for body scanning devices, perimeter intrusion detection systems, cell phone detection devices, license plate recognition software, and phone screening technology.
- HB 18 provides $12.3 million to GDC for physical and pharmaceutical services to continue to provide these necessary services to inmates.
- The Amended FY 2023 budget appropriates $1.8 million to the Court of Appeals and $1.5 million to the Supreme Court for a new docket system. The coding for the docket system used by both courts is dated, and only one analyst at the vendor is versed and able to provide maintenance on the system.
- The House provides $485,052 to fully fund a salary increase for circuit public defenders in accordance with HB 1391 (2022 Session). The Amended FY 2023 budget provides $4 million in new state funds to the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (CJCC) for the Georgia Crime Victims Emergency Fund to offset lower than normal collections of probation fees. The fund is used to provide up to $25,000 in compensation for expenses, loss of income, or support to victims of violent crime.
- The House provides $2.4 million for domestic violence shelters for security upgrades. Security funds can be used for safety training for staff, agency safety assessments, or upgrades such as lighting, security systems, privacy fences, and bulletproof windows. The House appropriates an additional $2 million in one-time funds to domestic violence shelters to offset the loss of federal grant funds.
- The Amended FY 2023 budget reflects a $1.1 billion dollar infusion of surplus state general funds to keep the Georgia Department of Transportation whole after a 10-month suspension of motor fuel tax collections.
- The Capital Construction Projects program receives an increase of $51.4 million, and the Routine Maintenance program is boosted by $25 million to meet the rising costs of maintenance service contracts and equipment.
- The Transit program reflects a restoration of $1.5 million for use as Federal Transit Administration (FTA) match money for smaller transit operators across the state to draw down federal grant dollars to enhance services, equipment, and infrastructure of their systems.
- The Airport Aid program receives an infusion of $7.8 million to be used to continue to improve airports across the state, and the Rail program receives $3 million to continue work on bringing all state-owned shortline railroads to Class II standards (286 pounds/25 mph).
This budget represents a commitment to the people of Georgia. I am proud of the work we have done on this budget and it shows the strong fiscal state of our economy. We will continue to address the many bills coming to the House floor in the days and weeks ahead, and I encourage you to reach out to me about any legislation that interests you. and I welcome any opportunity to hear feedback from my constituents.
My capitol office is located at:
501-F Coverdell Legislative Office Bldg
Atlanta, GA 30334,
My office phone number is 404-656-0178, and my official email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Please feel free to reach out to me anytime.
As always, thank you for allowing me to serve as your representative,