Lawmakers approve $49 billion state budget

Published 4:51 pm Friday, March 24, 2017

The Georgia House and Senate came to agreement on a $49 billion budget for fiscal year 2018 earlier this week, included in which is a 2 percent pay hike for teachers.

The budget is now awaiting signature from Gov. Nathan Deal.

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Decatur County School System gave a 2 percent increase in teacher pay for the 2016-17 school year. Thought to be just a one-time pay bump, Superintendent Tim Cochran said the new budget would allow them to continue it.

“This is a good thing,” Cochran said. “We were able to get a 2 percent raise last year. But since the governor put that into the salary schedule, it will come down through the salary schedule from now on out.”

Most state employees are also included in the 2 percent pay raise. Child protection workers would receive 19 percent raises if the budget is approved. Retired state employees would get a one-time pay bump of 3 percent. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the raises would cost the state $360 million.

The budget also includes spending $223 million to continue holding up Georgia’s Teacher Retirement System, which serves education professionals in planning for their retirement and paying their benefits.

The $49 billion budget includes $25 Billion from state tax money, with most of the remaining $24 billion coming from the state government.

The budget’s spending proposal includes building a new state courts building in Atlanta where the former archives building was, which was knocked down in March. The state courts building is budgeted to cost $105 million. The spending proposal also includes more than $1.15 billion in new borrowing, the AJC reported.

Another notable budget item is that doctors would get an increase in payments for treating Medicaid patients, and millions will also go toward increasing autism services for kids. Nursing homes are budgeted to receive more money to help care for the elderly, as well as dentists who treat low-income Medicaid patients.

The 2017 session is scheduled to end next Thursday, March 30.