Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal Wednesday unveiled a state budget for the 2015 fiscal year that includes $807 million in new revenues. That money will be allocated for:
|Partial Restoration of K-12 Education Formula Austerity Cut||$314 million|
|Medicaid and PeachCare Growth||$170 million|
|K-12 and Higher Education Formula Growth||$151 million|
|State Employees/Teachers Retirement and Board of Regents Health Plan||$142 million|
|State Employee and Board of Regents Salary Increase||$51 million|
|Department of Justice Settlement Agreement (Behavioral Health)||$35 million|
Most state agency budgets only slightly change next year compared to the current 2014 fiscal year. Health, safety and regulatory agencies have absorbed cumulative cuts between 20 and 30 percent cuts in recent years, which is dramatically limiting their ability to deliver services. The proposed budget for next year does little to relieve that situation.
The biggest story in next year’s budget proposal is that it includes a down payment of about 30 percent to restore the $1.1 billion austerity cut in the state’s k-12 education funding formula. The governor proposes to spend $314 million to reduce furloughs, increase instructional days or increase salaries.
This money should help the 80 percent of districts furloughing teachers and the 70 percent of districts that have cut the school calendar below 180 days return to the standard calendar. However, if districts use the money to return to a full year calendar, it is unlikely that many teachers will receive base salary increases.
Even given additional education funding, Georgia’s public schools will still suffer an austerity cut of about $700 million next year, as measured by the state’s k-12 funding formula. That means a majority of school districts will still have fewer teachers and support staff, larger class sizes, less funding for professional development, and fewer elective courses such as art and music.
Next week GBPI will send email alerts as we publish reports featuring more detailed analysis of the state budget, both overall and broken down by subject areas.