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Friday, December 14, 2018

NOTES FROM THE SENATE, DECEMBER 14, 2018

AGENCY REQUESTS REFLECT GROWING STATE

Each year the Governor's budget instructions, issued on August 1st, provide direction to agencies on how to prepare their budgets for consideration. This year the instructions allowed agencies to request up to a 2% enhancement or increase to promote initiatives that would support better customer services, address unmet needs, or expand a successful program.

AMENDED REQUESTS

In the 2019 Agency requests, the increases totaled around $350 million, with the bulk of that comprised of state general fund requests.

- $72 Million- The Department of Community Health (Medicaid)
- $8 million- Higher pharmacy cost (gene therapy)
- $23 million- Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) payments program
- $15 million- The Department of Human Services
- $26 million- Forestland Protection Grant program request of
- $3.5 million- Georgia Student Finance Commission (Dual Enrollment)

FY 2020- $870 MILLION IN REQUESTS

The Agency requests for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 are also driven by growth but include the 2% allotment. Nearly $870 million in requests, with $720 million of state general funds, $93 million recognizing projected motor fuel, and $55 million of Lottery funding, the requests represent additional state investment in proven programs, formula funding growth, and enhancement requests for consideration.

The Department of Community Health's request includes similar requests for benefit growth in Medicaid ($88.8 million), and $67.6 million for Medicaid replacement of loss of federal funding due to lower Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) rates.

EDUCATION AND HUMAN SERVICES- $202.9 MILLION

The Department of Education included $168 million for estimation of enrollment growth in K-12 funding. Other agency requests includes the Department of Human Services which totals $34.9 million and includes:
- $15 million for Out-of-Home Care for growth in utilization
- $1.9 million for 1,000 additional non-Medicaid Home and Community Based slots
- $1.7 million for personnel for additional front line staff to process Aged, Blind and Disabled Medicaid applications and reviews
- $750,000 for Home Delivered and Congregate meal services
- $2.8 million for 26 Adult Protective Services positions and 10 Public Guardianship Office positions
- $200,000 for the Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program
- $1.1 million to enhance access of foster kids and families with safety issues to child care at DECAL/HeadStart, among other requests.

HIGHER EDUCATION

Supporting higher education, the Georgia Student Finance includes:
- $21.6 million for Dual Enrollment
- $49.9 million of Lottery funding for HOPE Scholarship - Public Schools to meet the projected need.
- Another enrollment formula request is from the University System of the Board of Regents request which totals $94.6 million including $85.2 million for adjustments in enrollment and square footage.

While the agency instructions were robust, they generally don't include any recruitment, retention or pay increases for teachers and state agency employees. While some agencies did utilize their 2% enhancement allotment to support strategic compensation adjustments for certain state employees, the current requests don't account for a general increase for state staff or teachers. Following a year, the FY 2019 budget, where compensation increases weren't included, working to get state employees and teachers additional adjustments is a priority.

NO RAISES INCLUDED

Additionally, the first five months of FY19 have also seen impressive revenue collections, which lends to an opportunity to look at state employee and teacher compensation. The budget expense, however, is not small. Just a 1% compensation increase for K-12 teachers totals roughly $87.5 million, and a 1% state employee increase is roughly $70 million, and that doesn't include University System or Technical College employees which is estimated at an additional $50 million more.

JUDICIAL BRANCH BUDGET NOT REVIEWED

Because the Judicial Branch is constitutionally separate from the Executive Branch, OCGA 45-12-78 states the law on state agencies making budget requests to the Governor's Office of Planning and Budget. Paragraph (d) states that for the legislative and judicial branches, those budget requests will be for information only and not subject to review or reduction by OPB.

So, therefore, the review by the House and Senate of the Governor's budget, while it reflects a close review of the agency budget requests, the requests by the Judicial Branch are reviewed by the Legislature for the first time.

Here is a list of the budget requests by Judicial Agencies:

Juvenile Courts $391,515 7.0% Increase
Prosecuting Attorneys $5.7 million 4.5% Increase
Superior Courts $2.03 million 3.0% Increase
Supreme Courts $420,478 3.0% Increase
Court of Appeals $3.2 million 15.0% Increase
Judicial Council $1.07 million 8.0% Increase

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