Georgia House passes budget with salary increases for teachers and state employees

Georgia public school teachers and state employees are one step closer to receiving pay raises, as the House Appropriations Committee has given its approval to a spending plan for the upcoming budget year starting on July 1.

The proposed budget allocates $36.1 billion in state funds and $66.5 billion in total, which includes federal and other sources of funding. The measure is set to be voted on by the full House on Thursday, followed by Senate debate.

Lawmakers made amendments to this year’s budget, resulting in a decrease in spending. Georgia’s state revenue expenditure reached $38 billion, with a total expenditure of $68 billion by the end of June 30, after Governor Brian Kemp signed the modified spending plan last week.

Starting July 1, public school teachers in Georgia will receive a well-deserved $2,500 raise. This increase in salary will elevate the average pay for teachers in the state to over $65,000 per year. It’s important to note that Governor Kemp had already proposed this raise back in January. Furthermore, lawmakers have already approved a $1,000 bonus that was disbursed in December, which was later ratified when the current budget was amended. Additionally, state and university employees will also benefit from a 4% pay increase, allowing them to earn up to $70,000 in salary. Currently, the average salary for state employees is $50,400.

In total, these pay raises amount to over $600 million. Previously, teachers had received $7,000 in raises over the course of Kemp’s first five years in office.

Certain employees will receive special recognition with additional benefits. State law enforcement officers, who already received a $6,000 special boost last year, will get an additional $3,000 increase. Similarly, child welfare workers will also receive $3,000 raises.

Read More:  Audit in California reveals state is in financial crisis with $55 billion more debt than available funds

Under the proposed plan, several judges would also receive a salary increase. The House has allocated over $10 million to implement the first phase of a plan aimed at raising and standardizing judicial pay. According to House Appropriations Committee Chairman Matt Hatchett, the remaining portion of the plan will be addressed in the following year. The plan seeks to align the highest remuneration for judges with the salaries earned by federal judges in Atlanta. As a result, State Supreme Court justices could witness an increase in their pay from $186,000 to over $223,000, while Court of Appeals judges could experience a rise from their current $185,000 to $212,000.

Currently, judges in Georgia’s 50 judicial circuits receive annual salaries ranging from $154,000 to $222,000, depending on the amount contributed by each county. The new system being proposed would entail the state providing a maximum salary of $201,000 for superior court judges, while counties would have the option to add a 10% locality supplement, resulting in a total compensation of $221,000.

Lawmakers are limited by Kemp’s revenue estimate and can only make adjustments or reductions to the governor’s proposed spending. The House, in this instance, decided to decrease funding for certain areas such as debt service and construction projects included in the amended budget, in order to allocate more funds towards healthcare, mental health care, and support for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

The state plans to allocate additional funding to various healthcare providers, including nursing homes, home health care providers, dialysis providers, physical and occupational therapists, and certain physicians. Governor Kemp proposed most of the increases, while the House also included some additional funding. These investments aim to enhance the quality of care and support provided by these healthcare professionals.

Read More:  "We Didn't Know If Teddy Would Ever Walk Again." Watch Pup Take Triumphant First Steps Following Attack

According to Committee Chairman Hatchett, it is necessary to implement rate increases in order to ensure that our healthcare providers can continue delivering quality services.

Adults enrolled in Georgia’s Medicaid program will now have access to basic dental care, a coverage that was previously not included. This expansion will require a total investment of $28 million, with $9 million being provided by the state and the remainder covered by federal funds.

The House has put forth a proposal to allocate an additional $21 million towards domestic violence shelters and sexual assault response. This is particularly crucial as many of these agencies are experiencing significant reductions in their federal funding. Hatchett emphasized that although the state funding does not directly offset the federal funds, it is essential for the state to take responsibility for the services it mandates.

“We want to ensure that we provide the necessary funding to support the mandates we impose on them,” he explained.

House lawmakers are proposing a budget allocation of $6.33 million to offer free breakfast and lunch to children in public schools. This initiative aims to support children who currently pay reduced prices for meals but do not qualify for free meals due to their income level.

The budget includes Kemp’s proposal to allocate $104 million for school security and $205 million to increase the state’s investment in purchasing and operating school buses. Additionally, representatives are supporting a plan to reverse a previous budget cut to the Department of Early Care and Learning, which will result in reducing prekindergarten class sizes from 22 children to 20.

Read More:  Christian group may end rule keeping beaches closed on Sunday mornings

Read More:

Leave a Comment