Senate Approves Changes to Fiscal Year 2022 Budget

Update on 3/23: The Senate approved changes to House Bill 81 by a vote of 54-0. This budget proposal now moves to a conference committee between the House and Senate.

The Senate Committee on Appropriations has approved changes to House Bill 81, the proposal for Georgia’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 budget, which will take effect on July 1. This proposal now moves to the full Senate floor for a vote.

The committee passed a substitute to House Bill 81 that recognizes the $12.5 billion in federal relief funds provided by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), $4.9 billion of which is direct aid to the state and not yet assigned for a specific purpose. The Georgia Legislature can only appropriate these funds after Gov. Kemp revises the state’s revenue estimate. Once the governor raises Georgia’s revenue estimate, the Legislature would then be able to appropriate ARPA funds as part of the state budget.

The governor can also transfer funding directly to state agencies, which may be appropriate in some cases. However, the $4.9 billion allocated in flexible state aid should be allocated through Georgia’s traditional appropriations process with input from the 236 members of the General Assembly.

The following table includes ARPA funds recognized by Senate Appropriations.

Agency Purpose Total
Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant $45,985,000
Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities Community mental health services (children and adolescents) $45,491,000
Department of Community Affairs Emergency Food and Shelter Program $12,351,000
Department of Early Care and Learning Child Care and Development Block Grant $606,960,000
Department of Early Care and Learning Head Start $26,728,000
Department of Early Care and Learning Child Care Stabilization Block Grant $970,772,000
Department of Early Care and Learning Increase in federal matching funds for the Child Care and Development Fund $17,504,000
Department of Education Special education grants for the states $89,976,000
Department of Education Emergency assistance to non-public schools $65,585,000
Department of Education Elementary and secondary school relief $4,249,371,000
Department of Human Services Aging supportive & senior centers $12,345,000
Department of Human Services Aging nutrition services $20,365,000
Department of Human Services Aging disease prevention and health promotion $1,206,00
Department of Human Services Family caregiver support $3,812,000
Department of Human Services Low-income energy assistance $117,918,000
Department of Human Services Capital assistance programs for elderly and disabled $642,000
Department of Human Services Long-term care ombudsman services $274,000
Department of Human Services Child abuse prevention grants $8,397,000
Department of Human Services Child abuse and neglect grants $3,336,000
Department of Human Services Pandemic emergency assistance $22,004,000
Department of Public Health Supplemental nutrition (WIC) $13,267,000
Department of Transportation Federal transit grants for rural areas $1,558,000
Georgia Department of Economic Development Georgia Council for the Arts $914,000
Georgia Department of Economic Development National Endowment for the Humanities Grants $1,142,000
Georgia Emergency Management Agency Emergency management performance grants $2,679,000
State aid (Governor’s Office) Governor’s Office $4,654,502,000
State aid (Governor’s Office) COVID-19 capital projects fund $261,682,000
University System of Georgia Public libraries $4,333,000
University System of Georgia and Technical College System of Georgia Higher education emergency relief fund $1,209,358,000
Total $12,470,457,000

As these federal relief funds still are not allocated, budget cuts remain for K-12 public schools, higher education and other key state programs and services. Below are some highlights of changes made to agency budgets by the Senate Committee on Appropriations.

The Senate made no changes to the House budget proposal, which maintains more than $82 million in cuts from total Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC) funding compared to FY 2020. No ARPA funds are recognized for any GDC areas or operations, including no additional recognized funding for COVID-related health services for GDC staff and inmates.

Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities

Georgia continued to see a growing demand for mental health and substance use disorder services during the pandemic. The House proposal restored $58.5 million of the $91 million in total department budget cuts compared to the FY 2020 budget. The most recent changes made by Senate Appropriations include:

  • $1.6 million added for respite services to provide short-term relief for primary caregivers of adults with developmental disabilities
  • $1 million added to advance telehealth capabilities for mental health
  • $250,000 added for The Bradley Center at St. Francis-Emory Health Care for mental health crisis services
  • Recognizes $46 million in ARPA funds for the Prevention and Treatment of Substance Abuse block grant
  • Recognizes $45.5 million in ARPA funds for community mental health services block grants for child, adolescent and adult mental health

Department of Community Health

Changes made by Senate Appropriations include:

  • Uses $19.6 million in state funds—instead of $25.3 million from the House budget—for a 10 percent rate increase for home and community-based services providers (Utilizes federal funds from ARPA, which provided a 10 percent increase in the matching rate for home and community-based Medicaid services)
  • $834,684 added to fund three senior leadership positions to meet increasing department workload and to work with OPB on value-based purchasing and quality in Medicaid
  • Utilizes $750,000 in existing funds and adds $50,000 new funds for operating the All-Payer Claims Database
  • $350,000 added to develop a formal grant program for new medical schools in Georgia and evaluate the need for new graduate medical education programs throughout the state
  • $300,000 added for a three-year grant to rural hospitals for electronic intensive care units (EICUs)
  • $250,000 added to coordinate with medical schools to address the shortage of medical examiners and forensic pathologists
  • $153,900 added for a deputy director position within the Healthcare Facility Regulation department to support skilled nursing facility quality incentives
  • $129,397 added for a financial specialist in the department’s administrative office
  • $116,647 added for a 3 percent increase in Medicaid and PeachCare reimbursement for select dental services
  • Reduces all $500,000 added by the House to fund start-up grants for two federally qualified health centers in Jeff Davis and Marion counties
  • Reduces one-time Rural Hospital Stabilization grants from to $3 million from $15 million

Department of Public Health

State funding remained relatively flat in recent years, but the public health agency received new federal support for COVID-19 relief. Lawmakers prioritized more state funding for public health this year as it will remain vital for the state’s recovery amid the pandemic and beyond. Changes made by Senate Appropriations include:

  • $1 million added for newborn screening of Krabbe disease
  • $200,000 added for Georgia CORE and $125,000 for Sickle Cell Foundation of Georgia
  • $75,000 added for nurse peer assistance program to support nurses recovering from substance use disorder
  • Uses federal funds to replace all $1.5 million in state funds added in the House budget for ongoing maintenance of the vaccine management
  • Recognizes $13.3 million in ARPA funds for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)

Economic Mobility

After the House maintained budget cuts to the Department of Human Services (DHS), Senate Appropriations made the following changes:

  • $11.7 million added for DHS funding, with new investments in the following programs:
    • $6.7 million added to establish a therapeutic foster care program and leverage federal funds
    • $4,727,964 added for adoption services to support community partnerships to stem learning loss due to COVID-19 for K-12 students
    • $200,000 added for contracts for vocational training services with Broken Shackle Ranch
    • $25,000 added for Friends of Disabled Adults and Children (FODAC) for equipment for disabled individuals
    • $65,000 added for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) for development and start-up for underserved Echols, Henry and Lowndes Counties
  • Recognizes about $1.6 billion in ARPA funds for child care
  • Recognizes about $190 million in ARPA funds for the Department of Human Services, including $22 million in ARPA Pandemic Emergency Assistance funded through Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), which can provide direct cash relief to low-income families

Higher Education & Lottery Funded Programs

Ongoing budget cuts have forced many schools to cut staff, eliminate programs and struggle with capacity. This budget proposal still includes combined cuts to the University System of Georgia (USG) and the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) of $264 million below FY 2020 funding levels. Changes made by Senate Appropriations include:

  • $1.5 million added state funds to TCSG for its high school diploma program, contingent on passage of Senate Bill 204
  • $5 million added in state funds for non-teaching programs under the Board of Regents, including:
    • $2.5 million for Middle Georgia State University’s aviation career path program under Public Service/Special Funding Initiatives
    • $1.5 million for the Enterprise Innovation Institute to fund the Partnership for Inclusive Innovation
    • $1.2 million for the Georgia Research Alliance for venture funds and to recruit Academy of Eminent Scholars with a focus on rural Georgia and historically Black colleges and universities
    • $945,000 for the Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center for a rural coding program in partnership with the Department of Education
    • Senate recommends smaller additions to support operations of Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Services
  • Recognizes $1.2 billion in federal ARPA funds for USG and TCSG schools
  • Recognizes $4.3 million in federal ARPA funds for public libraries

K-12 Education

Georgia’s K-12 public schools have only been fully funded in two of the past 19 years. The current budget proposal still underfunds the Quality Basic Education formula by $383 million below FY 2020 levels. Changes made by Senate Appropriations include:

  • Removes $5 million for school nutrition that the House had added
  • $1.6 million added to implement a 2019 law for dyslexia screening
  • $1 million added to increase grants for computer science courses
  • Recognizes $4.2 billion in federal ARPA funds for emergency relief to mitigate the harm due to the pandemic, specifically for low-income students
  • Recognizes $156 million in federal ARPA funds for special education grants and emergency assistance to non-public schools

As Georgia communities continued to feel the effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, lawmakers must work to ensure programs and services across education, health care and more are fully funded to support the needs of all Georgians. Gov. Kemp should take the first step forward in allocating federal relief funds by raising the state revenue estimate immediately.

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