(The Center Square) – Georgia lawmakers capped off the 2022 legislative session by approving the state’s fiscal 2023 budget.
The state Senate voted 53-0 in favor of House Bill 911, while the state House voted 160-5.
The $30.2 billion budget, which starts July 1, represents a 10.8 percent increase over last year’s budget and includes a $5,000 pay increase for state employees. Coupled with more than $17.6 billion in federal money, the state’s budget exceeds $57.9 billion.
“While not perfect, it restores major cuts to agencies and services, provides raises for teachers and state employees, and fully funds the QBE formula for education,” Senate Democrats said in a tweet.
In a recap of the legislative session, the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute (GBPI) said that while the “budget restores much funding to pre-pandemic level,” it “does not address the rising costs of goods and services.”
“Although the year-over-year funding increases in the FY 2023 budget mark a positive step forward, much remains to be done to address the consequences of persistently underfunding core areas of the government such as Georgia’s public education system, which has reinforced systemic barriers to economic opportunity that prevent many Georgians from participating in the state’s prosperity,” GBPI said.
The measure now heads to Gov. Brian Kemp, who is expected to sign it.
For his part, Kemp, a Republican, took a victory lap following the end of the legislative session. Heading into what looks to be a contentious re-election campaign, Kemp can point to several legislative victories, including the passage of House Bill 1437 to create a flat income tax and House Bill 1302 to give a one-time tax refund totaling $1.1 billion to eligible Georgia taxpayers.
This week, “we made history when we closed the books on one of the most successful and impactful legislative sessions the Peach State has ever had,” Kemp said in a statement. “We worked hard, together, to pass both budgetary and legislative measures that direct money back into the pockets of hardworking Georgians, put parents, students, and teachers first, invest in our workforce, support Georgia’s thriving economy, strengthen public safety, and create innovative solutions to our healthcare challenges.”
By T.A. DeFeo | The Center Square contributor