Department Heads Weigh In On Governor’s Budget Plan

first_imgThe heads of some state departments Wednesday addressed the House and Senate Appropriations Committees over the governor’s budget proposal.As heard on the radio1:47Just hours after Governor Nathan Deal’s State of the State address, state economist Ken Heaghney echoed the governor’s claim that budget projections are looking up for next fiscal year. His sunny outlook wasn’t lost on Republican House Appropriations Chair Terry England.“Well, Dr. Heaghney, over the last three or four years, I would say this is the most optimistic you’ve been in a while,” England said.Heaghney said for the fiscal year that will start in July, income taxes are expected to jump 4.4 percent to a little more than $18 billion, and the general fund will bump up 4.3 percent to just over $19 billion.Some of that money could go toward a proposed half-billion dollar boost to education spending, which Deal laid out in his State of the State speech earlier Wednesday. That allocation still needs approval by the committees.Superintendent John Barge, who’s running against Deal in the gubernatorial primary, said he was pleasantly surprised by Deal’s announcement. He said the money could be used for teacher salary increases or ending furloughs, but that’s not certain.“That would absolutely – the way the budget is written, the way I read it, that will be left up to each individual system,” said Barge of the possibility for a small teacher salary boost.Members of the state’s University System also applauded $1.9 billion funding allocation. If approved, that would be a $56 million increase over last year despite declining enrollment.John Brown is the system’s chief financial officer.“What I would point out most appreciatively, but there is a considerable amount of that money that is health related and retirement related,” said John Brown, the system’s chief financial officer. “It is money that is out there to keep us even where we are, and not really get ahead.”Brown asked lawmakers to consider appropriating more money for repair work and improvements to the library system, which both received about 20 million dollars less in funding than the university system initially asked for.  Members of the Department of Community Health and Department of Transportation also testified Wednesday.The senate and house committees will approve a final budget in the coming weeks. For Whom The Bell Rings 1:47 | Play story Add to My ListIn My List Related Stories Legal Advocate Discusses Medical Abuse At Shut Down Georgia ICE Facility ‘It’s Fractured’: Georgia Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan On Healing Republican Party Sharelast_img read more