• Capitol Recap: Fiscal Year 2021 Budget

    Capitol Recap: Fiscal Year 2021 Budget

    By: Sen. Larry Walker (R - Perry)

    Although the 2020 session has come to an end, the impact of our legislative work endures as we continue to serve the great people of this state. Perhaps the largest indicator of our dedicated efforts this year has been the final passage and signage of the Fiscal Year 2021 budget (FY21) by Governor Kemp. With the prevalence of COVID-19 in our communities, businesses have faced new constraints and typical sources of revenue have either been postponed or stunted. Georgia, as a result, faced a new economic outlook than the one we were previously looking at in January. The FY21 budget is in no way one that we had anticipated, but while reductions were necessary, Georgia remains economically strong.
    Overall the FY21 budget accounts for $26 billion in total state allocations, with $250 million coming from the state’s “rainy day” reserve and $50 million from tobacco settlement funds. These adjustments have allowed for Georgia’s revenue estimate to only be lowered by $2.19 billion and add additional resources back to some of the state’s most critical areas, including health care access, public education and criminal justice. Additionally, the General Assembly passed a substitute to Senate Bill 416, which would reduce the annual salary for each member of the General Assembly by 10% and the Lieutenant Governor by 14% for the new fiscal year. I am proud of my colleagues for taking the initiative to sacrifice some of our earnings to ensure that our hard working staff members will not have to take any furlough days. The FY21 budget reflects a careful calculation of our state’s priorities and I am confident in the fiscal future it offers.
    In an in-depth look at the allocations that will directly affect Senate District 20, several bond packages have been offered to help supplement the communities and businesses that need them the most. In terms of the Georgia Agricultural Exposition Authority, $2.4 million in 20-year bonds will be provided for renovations to assist with general repairs and infrastructural development. Georgia’s Agricenter has been a source of enormous economic boom over the last couple of decades, attracting roughly 18 million people and an impact of $1.5 billion. These bonds will ensure our agribusinesses continue to thrive, as they develop economically and remain competitive with other states.
    To help fuel academic prosperity, $4.8 million in 20-year bonds will go towards the renovation of the Dublin Center and Library Building in Middle Georgia State University’s Dublin Campus and $1.2 million in 5-year bonds for the renovation of Roberts Library and Dillard Hall at the Cochran Campus. This will allow future generations of Georgians to succeed in all trades, while $5 million in 5-year bonds for the purchase of aviation equipment at Middle Georgia will help facilitate technological innovation and jump-start a new cycle of skilled workers.
    The hard work of Governor Kemp, Lieutenant Governor Duncan, and Appropriations Chairmen Sen. Blake Tillery (R – Vidalia) and Rep. Terry England (R – Auburn) has allowed us to continue to serve the people of Georgia, while remaining fiscally conservative and responsible in our spending habits. Georgia’s economic outlook may have altered, and will continue to alter as we adjust to the consequences of COVID-19, but the FY21 budget provides stabilization during these uncertain times. Over the course of the next couple months, I will continue to update you on legislation that was covered during the 2020 session, but please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or concerns.

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    Sen. Larry Walker serves as Caucus Vice Chairman for the Majority Party. He represents the 20th Senate District, which includes Bleckley, Houston, Laurens and Pulaski counties. He may be reached by phone at (404) 656-0095 or by email at larry.walker@senate.ga.gov.