Gov. Deal Releases Budget Recommendations; Joint Budget Hearings Begin

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Gov. Nathan Deal delivered his State-of-the-State address on Jan. 13, urging the General Assembly to consider his legislative and budgetary priorities that include:

  • Implementing recommendations made by the Education Reform Commission,
  • Executing new proposals from the Georgia Council on Criminal Justice Reform, and
  • Providing pay raises for teachers, including Pre-K, as well as for most state employees.

Deal’s complete budget recommendations for the Amended FY16 and FY17 budgets were made public on Jan. 14, and the House and Senate were scheduled to begin joint budget hearings on Jan. 19. Joint subcommittee hearings on the Amended FY16 budget are also scheduled this week.


News Deal’s recommendation for Georgia Family Connection’s appropriation remains unchanged from last year’s final budget, which included a $1,000 increase per county as compared to recent years. Deal also advocated new funding for diversion programs in criminal justice and juvenile justice as well as funds to implement proposals related to Pre-K programs by the Education Reform Commission. Other budget suggestions include:

Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD)—FY17
Funds for additional salary increases for DBHDD staff in most program areas “to address recruitment and retention issues in the highest turnover job classes” in addition to funds for merit-based salary increases.

Department of Community Affairs—Amended FY16
$14.9 million for OneGeorgia Authority to provide additional competitive grants to local school systems for broadband Internet connectivity, live online instruction, and other digital platforms for students and teachers.

Department of Community Health—FY17
$132 million for projected growth to low-income Medicaid recipients (total funds: $411,160,916).

Department of Early Care and Learning—FY17

  • $26 million to implement a new compensation model to retain lead teachers, increase assistant teacher salaries, and maintain classroom quality.
  • $2.3 million to increase benefits for Pre-K lead and assistant teachers and to give program providers the flexibility to combine benefits and non-instructional costs as needed.

Department of Education (DOE) —Amended FY16
$1.6 million to support information technology applications used by local school systems.


  • $2.5 million to middle and high schools for film and audiovisual equipment grants.
  • An additional $2.8 million to support information technology applications utilized by local school systems.
  • $1.4 million to grow enrollment, training, and experience for Preschool Disabilities Services, a program that provides early educational services to 3- and 4-year-olds with disabilities so they enter school better prepared to succeed.
  • $300 million in the Quality Basic Education (QBE) program to offset the austerity reduction to provide local education authorities the flexibility to eliminate teacher furlough days and increase instructional days. This funding also includes a 3-percent teacher salary increase, but there’s flexibility for local schools systems to use the funds in other ways. In his State-of-the-State address, however, Deal said it’s his intent for the funds to be used for raises.
  • $307,704 in the QBE program for differentiated pay for newly certified math and science teachers.
  • $406,330 to increase funding for training, professional development, and support for corps members in Teach for America.

Department of Human Services (DHS)—Amended FY16
$500,000 in Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act funding to establish a Child Abuse Registry.


  • The transfer of $1,089,366 in the Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention program from the Maternal and Infant Early Childhood Home Visitation (MIECHV) grant to the Infant and Child Essential Health Treatment Services program in the Department of Public Health (DPH).
  • $7.3 million in the Child Welfare Services program for 175 additional Child Protective Services workers (total funds: $8,840,544).
  • $584,049 in Child Welfare Services for 10 additional kinship-navigators.
  • In Federal Eligibility Benefits Services, $5.3 million added for 180 additional eligibility caseworkers and for operational costs “to avoid further federal penalties and sanctions” (total funds: $10,090,206).
  • In Out-of-Home Care, the replacement of prior years’ Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds with $49,339,792 in state funds, and the transfer of TANF funds to Child Welfare Services to reflect projected expenditures. (Note: The FY17 TANF block grant for Georgia is nearly $27 million less than FY16. The total TANF block grant for Georgia in FY17 is $323,092,670.)
  • In Out-of-Home Care, the increase of funds by $51,482,167 for growth in use of the program (total funds: $64,352,709).
  • In Support for Needy Families—Work Assistance, an additional $100,000 to provide a state match to implement a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Employment and Training grant (total funds: $5,100,000).

Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ)—Amended FY16
$2.3 million transferred from the secure commitment Youth Development Campus (YDC) program to community services for 40 step-down slots as part of juvenile justice reform initiatives. Georgia’s step-down program transitions eligible youthful offenders from YDCs into non-DJJ operated residential treatment facilities.


  • The transfer of $2.7 million additional funds from the secure commitment YDC program to annualize funding for 40 step-down slots.
  • The transfer of $981,169 for 16 school resource officer positions at five newly created regional education transition centers that will prepare students for high-school completion and provide activities to transition students from correctional programs to further education or employment.
  • The transfer of $402,726 from the secure commitment YDC program for Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children Victims’ Facility operations.
  • Additional funding in the secure commitment YDCs and secure detention Regional Youth Development Centers for security officer salary increases to address recruitment and retention issues in the highest turnover job classes.


  • Funding increases throughout DPH to provide for an additional salary increase for registered nurses to address recruitment and retention issues in the highest turnover job classes.
  • In Infant and Child Essential Health Treatment Services, an additional $1.7 million “for therapies for children with congenital disorders pursuant to OCGA 31-12-6.” The referenced code section addresses the Newborn Screening Program.
  • The transfer of the MIECHV grant from the Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention program in the DHS to DPH (total funds: $1,089,366).
  • In Public Health Formula Grants to Counties, $2.1 million added to complete the phase-in of the new general grant-in-aid formula to hold counties harmless.

Georgia Student Finance Commission (GSFC)—Amended FY16
$20.2 million added to meet the projected need for Move-On-When-Ready, the dual enrollment program that allows students to receive both high school and college credit for some courses.


  • $53.7 million in state lottery funds to meet the projected need for the HOPE Scholarship.
  • $29.4 million added to Move-On-When-Ready to annualize the increased funding added in the Amended FY16 budget.
  • $750,000 for the Raising Educational Achievement with Community Help (REACH) Georgia Scholarship program that provides need-based scholarships directly to students from low-income families. The new funds will be used to add additional school systems and to establish a pilot program for youth in foster care.


The Senate and House passed an adjournment resolution last week, setting the legislative calendar for the first 13 days. In addition to the scheduled budget hearings, legislators are scheduled to be in session Wednesday through Friday this week.