State House Budget Writers OK $37.5B Midyear Spending Plan

Dave Williams

Wednesday, February 7th, 2024

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The Georgia House Appropriations Committee approved Gov. Brian Kemp’s $37.5 billion fiscal 2024 midyear budget Tuesday.

With the state sitting on an unprecedented $16 billion surplus, lawmakers signed off on a $5 billion spending increase, 15.6% above the 2024 budget the General Assembly adopted last spring.

“For the first time in a number of years, agencies were able to ask for 3% enhancements,” said Rep. Matt Hatchett, R-Dublin, the committee’s chairman.

The House version of the midyear budget includes $1.1 billion in one-time capital investments for a number of projects. The list includes $450 million for a new state prison in Washington County, $178 million for a new dental school at Georgia Southern University’s Armstrong campus in Savannah, and $50 million for a new medical school at the University of Georgia in Athens.

Infrastructure improvements funded in the midyear spending plan include $250 million for low-interest loans to finance water and sewer projects, $100 million for the OneGeorgia Authority to fund rural economic development, and $23.9 million for rural workforce housing.

The House midyear budget reduced funding for several of those one-time spending items, as the committee shifted money to other priorities.

For example, House budget writers allocated $1.5 billion for transportation projects, less than the $1.9 billion Kemp recommended. The committee stuck with the governor’s request for $659 million for projects in the existing pipeline but trimmed from $641 million to $509 million the recommended funding for improvements aimed at more efficient movement of freight.

The committee steered some of those savings toward the secretary of state’s office for projects aimed at improving voter confidence in elections. The midyear budget includes $5 million for new paper ballots that no longer rely on QR codes and $110,000 to add visible watermarks to paper ballots.

House budget writers supported the governor’s recommendation for $300 million in $1,000 one-time pay supplements for 112,000 state employees and 196,000 teachers and school support staff. Additional raises are included in Kemp’s $36.1 billion fiscal 2025 budget, which the General Assembly will take up later this month.

The full House is expected to consider the midyear budget later this week.