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Georgia Senate passes $36 billion budget to include cost-of-living raises

staticwire | April 3, 2024
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The Georgia Senate has passed a $36.1 billion fiscal 2025 state budget with overwhelming support, focusing on pay raises for state employees and public school teachers. With a $16 billion revenue surplus, the state is able to provide $4,000 cost-of-living increases for most state workers, along with $3,000 raises for employees in state agencies facing high turnover rates, such as law enforcement officers and welfare workers. Teachers will also see an increase of $2,500.

In addition to the pay raises, the budget includes significant funding boosts for various education initiatives. This includes $243 million for student enrollment growth, $207 million to purchase more school buses, and $109 million in school safety grants to enhance security on public school campuses.

The Senate has also approved reinstating $66 million to the University System of Georgia, which had been cut from last year’s budget. Furthermore, the budget allocates funds to increase reimbursement rates for health-care providers and establish new mental-health crisis centers in Dublin and Augusta.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Blake Tillery, R-Vidalia, emphasized the importance of addressing mental health issues, stating that it is a growing concern impacting various sectors of society, including jails, prisons, and hospitals. The budget includes $6 million for a multi-year plan to stabilize the state’s trauma-care network.

Senators have also allocated $15.4 million to enhance security measures at state prisons, with a focus on combating the smuggling of cellphones to inmates. The budget plan also prioritizes funding state building projects with cash rather than bond financing and sets aside $64 million to expedite the repayment of previous bond debts.

The budget will now move to a joint legislative conference committee to reconcile any differences between the House and Senate versions by Thursday, the final day of this year’s General Assembly session. The bipartisan support for the budget reflects a commitment to investing in state employees, education, healthcare, and public safety to ensure the well-being and prosperity of Georgia residents.

Written by staticwire

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