HEADLINES : Georgia
Lawmakers come to state budget deal
House and Senate negotiators approved a budget for the upcoming fiscal year that cuts college funding and borrows from Medicaid to fund shortfalls in the teacher and employee retirement systems. Negotiators signed off on the deal this morning. The $18.3 billion spending plan now heads to the House and Senate for a final vote before going to Gov. Nathan Deal for his signature.
The budget for fiscal 2012, which begins July 1, mostly follows the proposal Deal made in January.
However, budget-writers had a few surprises along the way. They knew they would have to deal with the loss of $1 billion in federal stimulus funding. However, half-way through the session, they found out the state health care plan for teachers, state employees and retirees was short $275 million to $300 million. So they voted to raise premiums and borrow from Medicaid, the state-federal health care plan for the poor and disabled, to make up for it. Premiums for teachers, employees and retirees will increase at least 10 percent next year, maybe more.
A sizable cut in state higher education funding will likely mean substantial tuition increases at the state's colleges and universities. However, state funding for K-12 schools will remain about the same as this year. That's an improvement over recent years, when schools have seen massive spending cuts.