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Friday, November 16, 2018

NOTES FROM THE SENATE, NOVEMBER 16, 2018

SPECIAL SESSION RESPONDS TO HURRICANE

The Legislature has fulfilled the Governor's call for special session as called in the November 9th 2018 Proclamation. Between the $270.8 million in additional appropriations to support disaster recovery from Hurricane Michael and the additional timber tax credit legislation, the state is moving forward in rebuilding from the devastation encountered by so many in southwest Georgia.

$270.8 MILLION TO KEEP MOVING FORWARD

Governor Deal raised the revenue estimate from $26,226,914,974 to $26,497,741,251. This $270.8 million increase permits the state to cover expenses incurred as result of Hurricane Michael as well as to begin recovery.

The revenue estimate itself includes $205.8 million in state general funds and $64.9 million in motor fuel funds. This increase is fiscally sound since revenue growth of 2.3% to meet the FY 2019 budget.

FOCUSING ON EMERGENCY

The FY2019 Amended Appropriations bill, HB1EX, makes several adjustments for Hurricane Michael relief and statewide economic development.

--$69.3 million- to the Governor's Emergency Fund (GEF). Will pay the state match for the federal disaster assistance funding for expenses related to damages and operating costs associated with Hurricane Michael. A large portion of that, debris removal, will cost upwards of $82 million with the state share of $20.5 million included in the appropriation for GEF.

Other emergency fund items include the state share of $695,349 for 52,740 tarps delivered through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA); the state share of $3.1 million for 1,831,488 meals delivered through FEMA, not including non-profits; and the state share of $1.7 million for water and ice totaling over 4.7 million liters of water, 2.7 million pounds of ice, and 310 deliveries.

Also, the state is covering costs including the portion of local government expense for debris removal, emergency protective measures and other costs incurred for roads and bridges, water control facilities, and public utilities of approximately $6.8 million.

Nearly $4.8 million is currently the state share for hazard mitigation and $581,702 for the hazard state management cost. The total funds required will be upwards of $50 million. The current estimate is 20% of the total cost estimate for the disaster. This figure is initially calculated at the 30 day mark, revised at the 6 month mark, and then finalized one year after the incident.

--$8.9 million to the Department of Administrative Services for the state funded share of increased state agency property insurance premiums to cover property loss claims from damage to state properties during Hurricane Michael. State agencies have reported more than $23 million in damages to state facilities or property in those areas within the federally declared disaster.

--$55 million to the Georgia Development Authority for emergency disaster relief assistance to Georgia farmers in the 31 counties impacted by Hurricane Michael. The Georgia Development Authority was created to help develop opportunities for Georgia's farming communities, and assists the agriculture and industry by insuring loans to farmers and agribusiness interests. GDA's loan portfolio includes agribusiness loans, land and equipment loans, and alternative loans such as debt refinancing assistance and educational opportunities.

--$20 million to the Georgia Development Authority for emergency disaster relief assistance as approved by the State Forestry Commission for cleanup efforts and debris removal for Georgia timberland owners in counties impacted by Hurricane Michael.

--$7.4 million for the State Forestry Commission (SFC) to replace firefighting equipment used in clearing timberland destroyed or damaged by Hurricane Michael. The State Forestry Commission currently has a heavy equipment inventory of over 650 pieces, which include aircraft, bulldozers, transport trucks (including trailers), and fire engines.

--$770,000 for the State Forestry Commission to expedite construction of the consolidated Miller-Early County District 2 office in Blakely to replace the Colquitt and Blakely offices damaged by Hurricane Michael.

--$25 million for the OneGeorgia Authority to provide financial assistance to local communities impacted by Hurricane Michael and for statewide economic development efforts.

--$15 million for Department of Community Affairs Regional Economic Business Assistance (REBA) grants for projects with immediate statewide economic impact.

--$69.3 million for the Department of Transportation (GDOT) in state general and motor fuel funds estimated as a result of HB 170 to be used to offset expenses incurred as a result of Hurricane Michael. GDOT estimates that they have spent $31 million to date in clean up and recovery efforts, which will be partially offset by federal reimbursement.

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