ATLANTA, GEORGIA – The Georgia Budget and Policy Institute (GBPI) proudly presents an in-depth analysis of Governor Kemp’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2025 budget proposal, shedding light on critical aspects that impact Georgia’s public schools. GBPI’s Education Director, Dr. Stephen Owens, has provided invaluable insights into the proposed budget, emphasizing both positive advancements and areas of concern.
Overview of Governor Kemp’s FY 2025 Budget Proposal: A $1.4 Billion Increase
Governor Kemp’s budget proposal for FY 2025 allocates a substantial $13.3 billion to Georgia’s public schools, representing a noteworthy $1.4 billion increase from the current funding level. GBPI acknowledges the efforts to prioritize education, recognizing the importance of adequately supporting the Quality Basic Education Program.
Teacher Compensation and Health Insurance Challenges
The proposal includes commendable initiatives such as a $368 million increase for teachers’ cost-of-living adjustments and a $242 million provision for an additional share of the State Health Benefit Plan (SHBP) for certified members. However, the burden of funding pay raises for teachers not covered by the state allotment, including non-certified staff, may place an undue strain on local property taxes.
Critical Funding Allocations
Governor Kemp’s budget proposal earmarks $205 million for pupil transportation, signaling a positive step towards addressing the long-standing issue of underfunding in this area. Additionally, the creation of a $104 million line item for school security grants reflects a commitment to bolstering safety measures in Georgia’s public schools.
By the Numbers: Key Financial Highlights
The budget proposal for FY 2025 outlines significant financial commitments, including a $500 million allocation to secure the financial viability of the Employees Retirement System (ERS) and a total of $189.4 million for a one-time $1,000 salary supplement for full-time, benefit-eligible employees.
Concerns on Local Property Taxes and Inequality in Property Tax Collection
Dr. Owens highlights the potential challenges for school districts in covering pay raises from local property taxes, particularly in the face of increased employer costs for SHBP for non-certified staff. Additionally, the $267 million increase in formula funding for the Equalization grant raises concerns about growing inequality in property tax collection between low-wealth and high-property-wealth districts.
A Closer Look at Formula Increases for QBE
The proposed budget significantly addresses the QBE formula, allocating $205 million to increase the state’s share of pupil transportation costs. This substantial investment, if approved, would represent a crucial shift, doubling the formula earnings from the previous year and accounting for 31% of the total cost for pupil transportation.
Health Insurance Challenges for Schools
GBPI draws attention to the budget’s $242 million allocation to address the SHBP increase for certified employees. Concerns arise as the employer contribution for non-certified school employees is set to increase, potentially leading to workforce reductions and financial strain on school districts.
Statement by Dr. Stephen Owens, Education Director at GBPI:
“While the budget proposal shows a commendable commitment to education, we must carefully consider the long-term implications of relying on inequitable local property taxes for teacher compensation and increased health insurance costs. Sustainable funding solutions are crucial for ensuring the continued success of Georgia’s public schools.”
GBPI emphasizes the importance of a comprehensive and sustainable approach to education funding, urging stakeholders to consider the long-term implications of budgetary decisions on Georgia’s public schools. Dr. Owens’ detailed analysis provides a valuable resource for policymakers, educators, and the community at large.
For more information or to access the full report, please visit GBPI’s official website.