House Passes FY2018 Budget
Today, the Georgia House of Representatives voted 167-1 to pass the $25 billion state budget for the fiscal year that begins on July 1. The proposed budget for FY 2018 is $1.25 billion larger than the current spending plan, with much of the new money added in the areas of transportation projects, education funding and 2% merit-based pay raises for teachers and state employees.
The House budget recommendations specific to the University System of Georgia (USG) and Georgia State University included $2.5 million in funds for the demolition of Kell Hall/Library Plaza, $600,000 for equipment for the Alpharetta Labs and Learning Center and $142 for new USG formula funds. These funds are critical in meeting enrollment demands, providing for maintenance of new facilities and funding strategic initiatives. Also included was $50 million in bonds for major repairs and renovation.
Governor Deal signed into law this week the FY 2017 Amended budget, which provides additional funding to agencies through June 30. The amended budget totals $24.3 billion, a 3 percent growth in revenues over FY 2016 collections. This additional funding will allow the state to implement initiatives in public safety and cybersecurity, address growth needs in education and human services, improve Georgia’s transportation network and make long-term strategic investments in economic development efforts.
Campus Carry Bill Advances
HB 280, passed the House subcommittee for Public Safety and Homeland Security and is now eligible for consideration in the full House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee. The bill would allow anyone with a weapons carry permit to carry a firearm anywhere on a public college, university, technical school, vocational school or other institution of postsecondary education, except for dormitories, greek housing or athletic events. Firearms would also not be allowed at preschool space on campuses, but that restriction would not apply if a campus has more than one building housing preschool space. The USG position remains unchanged, “we support the current state law.”
HB 222, sponsored by Rep. Shaw Blackmon (R-Bonaire), allows a member of the Georgia National Guard or a member of a reserve component of the armed forces of the United States located in Georgia to be classified as a legal resident under eligibility requirements for HOPE scholarships and grants. The bill passed the House Higher Education Committee and is now eligible for consideration in the House Rules Committee.
HB 376, sponsored by Rep. Brenda Lopez (D-Norcross), would eliminate a provision making students ineligible for the HOPE scholarship seven years after high school graduation. Assigned to the House Higher Education Committee.
SB 186, sponsored by Sen. Lindsey Tippins (R-Marietta), provides that students who earned a high school diploma through certain dual credit coursework are eligible for a HOPE grant toward an associate degree. Assigned to the Senate Higher Education Committee.
SB 5, was heard this week before the Senate Higher Education Committee. The bill would raise Lottery returns to the state’s pre-K and HOPE programs. Currently, the Georgia Lottery Corporation returns slightly more than 25 percent of its sales to the state for pre-K and HOPE programs. This bill would require the Lottery to return 26 percent of gross sales to the state in fiscal year 2018 and gradually increase to 30 percent in fiscal year 2020. In any year, if ticket sales drop by 5 percent or more, the percent return will be frozen and no further increase will be required. No vote was taken on the legislation.
Medicaid Provider Fee Signed into Law
Governor Nathan Deal has signed SB 70, the bill that extends for another three years the Medicaid provider fee levied on the state’s hospitals. SB 70 was considered one of the key budget bills for this session, because the fee paid by hospitals generates about $311 million a year in revenues and brings in another $600 million in matching federal funds for Medicaid.
HB 224, sponsored by Rep. Dave Belton (R-Buckhead), would allow military students the ability to attend any school within their school system beginning in the 2017-2018 school year. This legislation defines a “military student” as any student whose parent is a military service member who lives on or off a military base. Local boards of education shall develop a streamlined process to allow for smooth transitions between schools for military students. The bill passed the House Education Committee and is now eligible for consideration in the House Rules Committee.
HB 338, sponsored by Rep. Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville), creates a new accountability structure led by a ‘Chief Turnaround Officer’ appointed by the Department of Education to oversee failing schools. Schools that don’t show improvement within two years would be subjected to interventions that could include being converted into a charter school, turned over to the district, or the state could replace key management staff, like the principal. Assigned to the House Education Committee.
HB 148, sponsored by Rep. Mike Glanton (D-Jonesboro) authorizes the Department of Education to create a unique identifier for students whose parent or guardian is an active-duty military service member or reserve member of the National Guard. A unique identifier can ensure the student’s teachers, counselors, and other relevant school employees are able to take note that this student may require additional services since this student has likely spent most, if not all, of their educational career in multiple locations. The bill passed the House Education Committee and is now eligible for consideration in the House Rules Committee.
HB 331, sponsored by Rep. Stacey Abrams (D-Atlanta), creates a mechanism for a kinship caregiver to give legal consent in the form of an affidavit for a child residing with him/her to receive educational services and medical services directly related to academic enrollment and to participate in curricular or extracurricular activities for which parental consent is usually required. Assigned to the House Human Relations and Aging Committee.
HB 170, sponsored by Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta), urges state agencies, medical service providers, health care agencies, research facilities, medical schools, and all interested parties to work toward increasing research, clinical care, and medical education for myalgic encephalomyelitis. Myalgic encephalomyelitis is an incurable disease that causes a cellular disorder characterized by profound fatigue, sleep abnormalities, pain, and other symptoms that are made worse by exertion. The bill passed the House Health and Human Services Committee and is now eligible for consideration in the House Rules Committee.
Intern Spotlight: Aaliyah McGill
After speaking with the Georgia State University Honors College Intern Coordinator, Aaliyah McGill immediately became interested in the Georgia Legislative Internship Program (GLIP) because she felt she would learn far more about Georgia politics and the legislative process than she would through a classroom lecture.
“The experience I receive from GLIP is going to help me to pay attention to detail, prioritize responsibilities, and communicate efficiently,” says Aaliyah who is a political science major. Ms. McGill is most impressed with how GLIP is an introduction to adulthood. “It’s a nine to five commitment and comes with many responsibilities,” she states.
Tracking bills, handling constituent concerns, scheduling meetings, and writing letters are among the many duties Aaliyah is assigned to as an intern for the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee.
Aaliyah’s busy schedule doesn’t allow time for extracurricular activities at the moment, however, she’s always on the lookout for volunteer opportunities around Atlanta. Ms. McGill plans to attend graduate or law school after she has received her undergraduate degree from Georgia State University. Her career goal is to work at a law firm or a non-profit.
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
Day 21: The House and Senate will convene at 10:00 am on Tuesday, February 21.
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
404-413-2030 (office) • 404-413-1410 (fax)
Visit Georgia State University’s Office of Government and Community Affairs:
** ga.gsu.edu (http://ga.gsu.edu)
Copyright © 2014 Georgia State University, All rights reserved.