Georgia Senate passes finances with pay rises for academics and state workers

ATLANTA — The Georgia Senate on Thursday unanimously passed a $29.9 billion mid-year state budget that includes pay rises for teachers and state employees.

This story also appeared on the Capitol Beat News Service

With the state in strong financial shape thanks to growing tax revenues from the pandemic, lawmakers are granting most state employees a $5,000 increase, while the Senate is providing an additional $4,000 increase for adult and juvenile correctional officers to cover the to cope with high turnover.

The teachers are set to receive a $2,000 raise, the latest installment of a $5,000 raise Kemp promised during the 2018 campaign.

“Georgia’s economy has remained resilient despite challenges on many fronts,” Blake Tillery, R-Vidalia, chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said Thursday. “We’re continuing to expand jobs. We keep adding companies. … This is reflected in the sales figures.”

In addition to the pay increases, the half-year budget, which covers state spending through June 30, includes $93 million to reflect an increase in public school enrollments reported last fall, $388.2 million to fully fund the K- State’s 12-student funding formula and $432.5 million to upgrade prison systems.

“A lot of these facilities are very old,” Tillery said. “It’s a security issue.”

Senators also backed Kemp’s proposal to capitalize on the inflow of tax revenue by returning $1.6 billion in rebates to Georgia taxpayers.

Senate changes to the half-year budget that the state House of Representatives passed last month include $4.1 million for $2,000 in salary increases for school nurses, $20 million for rural inner-city development grants and 14, $9 million for the same amount the House of Representatives has spent fixing wear and tear on state parks that have seen much use during the pandemic.

The mid-year budget now goes back to the House of Representatives, which could either approve Senate amendments or send the spending plan to a joint conference committee to work out the two houses’ differences.

This story is available through a news partnership with the Capitol Beat News Service, a Georgia Press Educational Foundation project.