Governor Deal’s Top Budget Priority: Education
Governor Nathan Deal has proposed a spending plan of $21.78 billion for fiscal year 2016, a 4.5 percent or $946.2 million increase over the current state budget. Of this new spending, just over half will go towards education funding for Georgia’s public schools. “My first and foremost priority is to see that every child in Georgia receives a quality k-12 education so that he or she is fully prepared to excel in future endeavors,” Deal shared in his budget message. Included would be $280 million to go directly to local systems to use for teacher raises, ending furlough days or increasing instructional days.
The Governor’s recommendations includes several items related to University System formula funding. This includes, $11.3 million to fund 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 budget provides an additional $47 million in funding formula for maintenance and operations funding for new space and increases in normal health cost. Also included is $7.62 million for the funding formula for enrollment growth and $60 million in bonds for major repairs and renovations. The Governor’s bond package totals $800 million for the state, of which $232.3 million is recommended for the University System.Governor Deal made his budget presentation Thursday to the House and Senate Joint Appropriations Committee. His main focus was on criminal justice reform and more educational opportunities for Georgia’s prisoners. Among the items Deal has recommended is $15 million to hire full-time teachers and operate two charter schools offering classes to inmates who want to obtain a high school diploma.
Budget Hearings Underway
Chancellor Hank Huckaby, along with Vice Chancellor of Fiscal Affairs John Brown, presented the USG budget recommendations to the House and Senate Joint Appropriations Committee earlier this week.
“We are leading the country with our consolidation efforts, have entered into innovative partnerships, such as our P3 initiative for campus student housing and making space management a priority. All these efforts support our mission to graduate more students to meet our future workforce needs” said Huckaby. The USG budget requests highlighted included salaries, major repairs and renovations, capitol needs, new career initiatives and performance funding.
Chancellor Huckaby made it clear to the committee that a salary increase for faculty and staff is the top priority for the University System. He asked they support the Governor’s recommendation for this increase in the fiscal year 2016 budget and stressed that it was a critical need.
Education Reform Commission Named
Governor Deal announced this week the individuals who will serve on the Education Reform Commission. The list includes a mixture of legislators, educators and business professionals. The commission will convene throughout the first half of year to comprehensively review the state’s education system and QBE formula in order to provide recommendations to Governor Deal by the first of August. Chuck Knapp, former president of the University of Georgia, will chair the commission.
Calendar Set Thru Day 15
After a week of budget hearings, the House and Senate will be back in session on Monday, January 26 and convene for the first four days of the work week, adjourning Friday. For the first week of February, only three days of legislative business will be conducted followed by four the following week, ending February 12. At this time, the legislature will pass a new adjournment resolution.
Intern Spotlight: Austin Trott
Austin Trott is a second year Master’s student majoring in political science with a concentration in international and comparative studies at Georgia State University. Austin became interested in the Georgia Legislative Internship Program because he feels it’s a very structured and well-oiled machine.
He envisions the program as the first stepping stone to begin his career. “The program is giving me in depth experience in state and local politics that will nicely compliment my study of international politics and willallow me to examine the implications of policies at all levels of government,” says Mr. Trott.
Assigned to the Senate Committee for Veterans, Military, and Homeland Security, Mr. Trott’s duties range from answering the telephone to conducting research for the senators and their administrative assistants.
In addition to serving as a legislative intern, Austin is a consultant for the Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) program at Georgia State University, which assists students in the development and teaching of writing intensive courses. After completion of his Master’s program, he would like to work for a state or federal level agency in the field of economic development or policy analysis.
Intern Spotlight: Sara Delgado
“I expect the program to be a little tough, definitely unlike any other work environment I’ve previously experienced,” says Sara Delgado, referring to the Georgia Legislative Internship Program. Government and the legislature have always been fascinating topics to this businesseconomics major from California. High school courses didn’t teach Sara how the government functions at a state level, and she’s therefore hoping to gain a better understanding of what makes Georgia run. Althoughit’s an intimidating place to be, Sara feels everyone is connected and determined and she feels lucky to be a part of this year’s session.
Ms. Delgado’s legislative assignment is Senate Banking & Financial Institutions and Regulated Industries. As an intern, she attends committee meetings, works with senate research, and assists her legislative assistant with administrative tasks.
Sara plans to attend graduate school to study financial economics, obtain a PhD and possibly teach as an adjunct professor. Her ultimate career goal is to become a financial analyst and economic journalist.
Information on legislative activities including bills and resolutions as well as webcast of daily sessions in both Chambers and committee meeting are available via the General Assembly website at ** www.legis.ga.gov (http://www.legis.ga.gov)
Day 5: The House and Senate will convene at 10:00 am on Monday January 26.
Georgia State University Day at the Capitol — February 4, 8:00 am – 11:00 am