Georgia teachers and state employees will receive raises if state budget passes

ATLANTA (AP) — From the moment Gov. Brian Kemp proposed them, raises for Georgia public school teachers and state employees were never politically in question. But on Thursday, lawmakers finally pushed through the deal and passed a budget that also increases spending on education, health care and mental health.

Senators and representatives have resolved their differences over House Bill 916, which passed the House by a vote of 175 to 1 and the Senate by a vote of 54 to 1. The budget calls for $36.1 billion in federal funds and $66.8 billion overall for the year beginning July 1.

“As the saying goes, perfect should not be the enemy of good,” said House Budget Committee Chairman Matt Hatchett, a Republican from Dublin, explaining that while not all requests have been met, many have.

The spending would be dropped from this year's budget after Governor Brian Kemp and lawmakers supplemented this budget will provide billions in a one-time payment, bringing government spending to $38 billion in the year to June 30. Kemp supported the budget in an address to Parliament on Thursday and is expected to sign it.

Public school teachers would receive a $2,500 raise starting July 1, raising the average teacher salary in Georgia to over $65,000 a year, the Republican governor proposed in January. That's in addition to a $1,000 bonus paid to Kemp in December. Preschool teachers would also receive a $2,500 raise.

State and university employees would also receive a 4% raise, up to $70,000. The average state employee earns $50,400.

Some employees would get more. State law enforcement officials would get an additional $3,000, in addition to the 6,000 USD special bonus They got it last year. Child welfare workers would also get an additional $3,000 raise.

However, judges will not large salary increases once proposedInstead, they only receive the 4% that other civil servants receive.

A big winner in the budget would be Georgia's public preschool program. Kemp said Wednesday that lawmakers could spend an additional $48 million in lottery funds. Lawmakers put almost all of the money into the state's Department of Early Childhood Care and Education, a move that earned her praise from Senate Minority Leader Gloria Butler, a Democrat from Stone Mountain.

“For most of my 30 years in the Senate, Democrats have pushed for this funding,” Butler said. “Tonight, my friends in the majority listened.”

The state would have to spend hundreds of millions of dollars more to increase payments to nursing homes, home health providers, dialysis providers, physical and occupational therapists and some doctors. But in their final document, lawmakers rolled back some of those rate increases.

Lawmakers agreed to spend nearly $19 million more on shelters for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault to offset deep cuts in federal funding facing some agencies.

The budget would also increase the amount local school boards must pay for health insurance for noncertified workers such as janitors, cafeteria workers and secretaries.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Blake Tillery, a Republican from Vidalia, argued that it was fair to accelerate the phasing in of higher premiums because the state is also pumping other money into education, including a $205 million increase in the state's share of the purchase and operation of school buses and $104 million for school safetyThe Senate would allocate an additional $5 million for school safety to develop school safety plans.

Another $60 million was reallocated by the House to new construction projects. Tillery said this was done at Kemp's behest, who did not want to spend so much money on current expenses in case revenues decline.

The state is already planning to pay cash for new buildings and equipment in the upcoming budget instead of taking out loans as usual, reflecting the billions in surplus Georgia has accumulated in recent years.