Georgia Governor Brian P. Kemp signed a $25.9 billion budget Tuesday, one day before the start of the new fiscal year. The major highlight in the budget is the 10% cut in K-12 education amounting to a $950 million cut.
“To be honest, today is bittersweet. Yes, this budget reflects our values as a state. … This budget prioritizes education, healthcare, and public safety,” Kemp said in a statement. “But this budget speaks to some of the hard choices made by state leaders to streamline and innovate. While we were able to avoid draconian cuts, getting this budget to balance was hard. These are challenging times, and the budget reflects that reality.”
The state will spend $25.9 billion of its own revenue, a 10% cut from what was originally expected. Before the restart of the legislative session, cuts were projected to be 14%. Kemp also allowed lawmakers to spend $250 million from the state’s savings account and increased projected tobacco tax revenue by $50 million, partly due to the creation of a vaping excise tax. Plus an improving economic outlook led to smaller reductions.
Combined with $15.1 billion in federal money and $11.4 billion in non-tax revenue, Georgia’s government plans to spend a total of $52.5 billion in the fiscal year that begins Wednesday.
“The pandemic has targeted the most vulnerable populations in our state, highlighting the healthcare disparities that exist,” Kemp said. “Now, more than ever, we see that access to quality, affordable healthcare – in every zip code – is essential and lifesaving. This budget fully funds projected growth in Medicaid and Peach Care, which is nearly $270 million. It also includes $19 million in new funding to offer six months of postpartum Medicaid coverage for Georgia mothers, effective upon approval by the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services. These big investments with help us enhance health outcomes. This budget will ensure a healthier tomorrow for all Georgians.”