Governor Deal Delivers Annual State of the State Address
Governor Nathan Deal delivered his “State of the State” address on Wednesday to a joint session of the Georgia General Assembly focusing on areas such as education and job growth.
Deal unveiled key details of his proposed $42.3 billion combined spending plan for the fiscal year beginning in July, a 3 percent increase over the current year. Among them was a proposed $547 million in additional education spending, which will include expanding the HOPE Grant and Scholarship, implementing a new student loan program and moving forward with pre-K reform and K-12 education initiatives.
Deal proposed raising the state’s HOPE scholarship and grants by 3 percent over last year and creating a new ZELL Miller HOPE Grant for students in the technical college system. This grant will cover 100 percent of tuition for those who maintain a 3.5 grade point average.
“There are many ingredients in the recipe for job growth” said Deal. “An important element is the availability of a trained and reliable workforce. We are fortunate that our workforce is ranked number one by CNBC, that our technical college system and its quick start program are regarded as the best in the country and that our colleges and universities, both public and private, provide excellent graduates.”
“In accordance with our trend of putting our education where our economy is, I am happy to announce the creation of the Governor’s High Demand Career Initiative. We will bring together the heads of Economic Development, the University System of Georgia, our technical colleges and schools, along with key leaders in some of our important private-sector industries. This initiative will allow us to hear directly from the employers of our state about what they expect their future needs will be, and it will give our institutions of education the chance to get ahead of the curve in preparing tomorrow’s workforce” said Deal.
Deal also included $35 million in his proposed budget for the deepening of the Port of Savannah. If approved, Georgia will have appropriated a total of $266 million for the project which is intended to start dredging later this year.
Annual Chamber Events Kick Off Session
Local, state and federal officials joined with the state’s business leaders at the Georgia Chamber of Commerce’s annual dinner and Eggs and Issues breakfast at the Georgia World Congress Center. The dinner featured former U. S. Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez as its keynote speaker. At the Eggs & Issues breakfast, the Governor provided a first glance at his legislative priorities for this session followed by a Q & A with Speaker David Ralston and Lt. Governor Casey Cagle.
(left to right) Executive Vice Chancellor Steve Wrigley, Senate Majority Leader Ronnie Chance and President Mark Becker.
GSU Students Serve as Interns
Georgia State University is fortunate to have twelve students participating in the Georgia Legislative Intern Program (GLIP) during the 2014 session of the Georgia General Assembly. As part of the GLIP, these students gain valuable experience and receive 9 hours of course credit upon satisfactory completion of internship requirements. Dr. Daniel Franklin, Professor in the GSU Department of Political Science takes over as Director of the GLIP from longtime Director Dr. Bill Thomas, GSU Emeritus. Georgia State students are also serving as interns to the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and other contract lobbying firms.
Special Election Results
The special election for House District 22 to fill the seat vacated by the passing of Calvin Hill heads to a runoff. Sam Moore (R-Ball Ground) will face Georgia State University alumni Meagan Biello (R-Ball Ground) on February 4, 2014. Meagan earned her Master of Education in social studies education from GSU.
December Revenues Increase
Revenue collections for the month of November totaled $1.75 billion, an increase of $64 million or 3.8 percent compared to the revenue collected in December 2013. Year-to-date, net tax revenue collections totaled $9.09 billion for an increase of $442 million, or 5.1 percent compared to the same point last year.
Budget Review Begins
Chancellor Hank Huckaby, along with Vice Chancellor of Fiscal Affairs John Brown, presented the USG FY 2015 budget recommendations to the House and Senate Joint Appropriations Committee.
Citing the need to restructure higher education to work more effectively and efficiently, Huckaby told legislators: “It is hypocritical to talk about the “new normal” for public higher education, yet continue to do everything the same old way expecting different results.”
“We are making some decisions that are not easy or comfortable, but they are the right decisions for our students and the State of Georgia,” Huckaby said.
Brown spoke on the Governor’s budget recommendations, which include several items related to the University System formula funding. It maintains the current FY 2014 level of enrollment funding rather than reducing funds to reflect a 2.74% decline in enrollment during academic year 2013-2014. Without this recommendation, the University System would experience a loss of $20.1 million in state funds. Therefore, rather than a $20.1 million decline, the Governor’s budget shows no reduction.
The budget provides an additional $36.4 million in funding formula for maintenance and operations funding for new space and increases in normal health cost and retirement benefits.
Also included is, $11.4 million to fund a merit-pay and employee recruitment and retention salary adjustments. The increase will provide the basis for a salary increase pool with awards based on merit.
The Governor’s bond package totals $763 million for the state, of which $146.96 million is recommended for the University System. Included is $7 million in equipment funds for the new Humanities/Law Building at Georgia State University.
Subcommittee hearings have already occurred on the Amended FY 2014 budget. It is expected that hearings on the FY 2015 Budget will occur soon as well.
HB 697, sponsored by Rep. Stacey Evans (D-Smyrna), would increase the HOPE grant award for technical college students so it pays their full tuition. This bill would restore aid to technical college students that was cut two years ago. The bill does not affect the HOPE Scholarship, which serves students in the University System of Georgia. Assigned to the House Appropriations Committee.
HB 726, sponsored by Rep. Chuck Sims (R-Ambrose), changes the definition of campus as it relates to campus police officers. The new definition includes any public or private property within 500 yards of the property of an educational facility and one-quarter miles of any public street or public sidewalk connecting different buildings of such educational facility. Assigned to the House Higher Education Committee.
HR 1036, sponsored by Rep. Michele Henson (D-Stone Mountain), creates a House Study Committee on Townships. Assigned to the House Governmental Affairs Committee.
HR 1038, sponsored by Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Savannah), recognizes and encourages the efforts of the Georgia Department of Education, the Technical College System of Georgia, the University System of Georgia, the Governor’s Office of Workforce Development, the Department of Community Affairs, and the private sect to place Georgia at the forefront of the return of manufacturing to the United States. Assigned to the House Economic Development & Tourism Committee.
Fast-paced Session Expected
Qualifying for federal, state and local 2014 elections will take place the week of March 3-7, with the primary taking place on Tuesday, May 20. State law prevents legislators from raising campaign funds while the General Assembly is in session. Given the early primary date, there is expected to be an enormous push to finish up by mid-March.
Day 6: The Senate will convene at 10:00 am and the House will convene at 11:00 am on Tuesday, January 21.
Georgia State University Day at the Capitol — February 5, 8:00 am – 11:00 am
Government Affairs Team
Tom Lewis, Senior Advisor to the President
Julie Kerlin, Director of Government & Community Affairs
Jason Thomas, Assistant Director of Government & Community Affairs
Debbie Jones, Associate to the Director
Georgia State University
P.O. Box 3999
Atlanta, Georgia 30302