(The Center Square) — Georgia lawmakers passed a fiscal 2024 budget that anticipates more than $32.4 billion in state funds, but not everyone is happy about the spending plan.
The budget, House Bill 19, also anticipates $17.9 billion in federal funds, bringing the total public funds to more than $55.8 billion. The total funds are about $229.6 million more than the $55.6 billion that Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, initially proposed.
According to a Georgia Budget and Policy Institute analysis of the budget, the spending plan fully funds the Quality Basic Education formula for Georgia’s schools. It also allocates $229 million to help school districts pay for a 67% increase in employer contributions for classified employees’ monthly health insurance premiums.
However, the University System of Georgia is raising concerns about its budgeted $3.1 billion in state funds, which it says is an “additional” $66 million decrease in state funding, including nearly $11.3 million for Georgia Tech. USG officials say the reduction will impact teaching budgets, staff and students statewide.
USG officials also said that a 10% budget reduction in fiscal 2021 it saw at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic has not been restored. They also say that 20 of the USG’s 26 public institutions will receive less money next fiscal year because if enrollment declines, arguing a “loss” of $71.6 million in state taxpayer money before the $66 million “decrease.”
“This is an incredibly disappointing outcome, given the work done over the years by our state leaders to elevate higher education and send Georgia on a path to ascension,” USG Chancellor Sonny Perdue said in a statement. “It will have a significant impact on institutions and the services that students and families depend on to advance their prosperity and help Georgia succeed.”
Georgia’s fiscal 2024 kicks off on July 1.
Earlier this year, lawmakers signed off on an amended fiscal 2023 state budget, House Bill 18, with more than $61.5 billion in funds. The budget included nearly $32.6 billion in state dollars and $18.6 billion in federal funds and grants.
“The [amended fiscal 2023] budget makes strategic investments for our growing state while returning money to the taxpayers,” Georgia House Speaker Jon Burns, R-Newington, said in a statement at the time.
By T.A. DeFeo | The Center Square contributor