Governor Nathan Deal - Georgia’s 82nd Governor (2011-2019)

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Deal: Budget adheres to conservative principles

January 17, 2012

In spite of the dip we saw in December revenues, the trend over the past year-and-a-half is positive. 
• December broke a string of eighteen consecutive months with year-over-year revenue growth.
• Key indicators are showing stabilization as we bounce back from the global recession.
• With this weekend’s downgrade of France and other Euro-zone nations, we still face headwinds.

We are maintaining a conservative outlook and approach to budgeting.   
• Georgia remains one of only eight states with a Triple-A bond rating by all three rating agencies. 
- When compared to our AA peers, this saved taxpayers $11M over the life of bonds sold last year alone. 
• We have grown our rainy day fund from $116M last year to $328M today, an increase of 183%. 
- I remain committed to building up this strategic reserve. 
• In developing the Amended FY 2012 and FY 2013 budgets, we have applied a zero-based budget approach to approximately 10% of our programs.
- This will help ensure that taxpayer dollars are used in the most efficient and effective way. 
- It is my intent to continue this approach in years to come.
• All agencies were asked to look for efficiencies and to prioritize their spending requests.  In most cases, agencies have reduced their spending levels 2% versus the prior year.
• My proposed budget continues to streamline state services by consolidating and realigning agencies and programs to find efficiencies. 
- Eliminating the State Personnel Administration
- Downsizing the Georgia Aviation Authority and selling state fixed wing planes

In light of increased revenues, my budgets invest more in our schools and call for investment in infrastructure projects of generational significance. I am setting the revenue estimate at $19.2B.  
My FY 2013 recommendation funds enrollment growth in K12 and higher education, fills Medicaid holes and funds growth, provides additional prison beds and includes required contributions to our state health benefit plans and retirement systems.

Outside of funding this growth, my budget recommendation calls for increased spending of three-tenths of one percent. Within this, $4.2M will go to fund additional residency slots for physicians, $10M will go to One Georgia, $10M for accountability courts and an additional $3.7M for school nurses. 

Also, let me place Georgia’s state spending in context:
• When adjusted for inflation, per-capita spending in my budget recommendation for FY 2013 is 20.5% less than FY 2002 spending levels.
• At the end of FY 2011, the state workforce had been reduced by 7.7% since 2001.  In that same time, the state population grew by roughly 1.5 million. 
- We are providing more service with fewer resources.   
- Last year I permanently eliminated 14,000 state authorized positions to ensure government remains lean.  

I will now outline some highlights from my budgets.

• Increase Pre-K school year by 10 days and increase teacher salaries in line with that increase.
• Fully funding enrollment growth
- The Amended adds $87.9M for K-12 
-  In FY 2013, add $58.7M for K-12
• $3.7M for school nurses
• Roll school nurses, nutrition program and transportation funding into QBE to increase local flexibility
• $55.8M for salary increases for teachers based on experience and training
• No reductions to QBE, Equalization Grants, State Schools or other enrollment driven programs.
• $1.6M for reading mentors to have all 3rd-Graders reading on grade level by completion of 3rd Grade.
• Higher Ed
- Add $16.8M in FY 2013 to fund enrollment growth in Technical College System 
- Add $94.5M in FY 2013 to fund enrollment growth in the University System
• $4.2M to increase the number of health professionals practicing across state 
- 400 residency slots to retain doctors  
- Increase number of nursing faculty positions

Transportation and Infrastructure
• $46.7M for SHEP, bringing our total contribution near the state’s 40% share
• $45.7M for water supply projects, the second installment in our four-year, $300M plan to boost water security

Criminal Justice
• With 1 out of 16 Georgians in our criminal justice system and ballooning costs, we must establish a smart-on-crime approach.
- $10M for accountability courts 
- $35.2M for additional prison beds 
- $5.7M to convert three Pre-Release Centers to Residential Substance Abuse Treatment centers

To meet the annual required contribution for teacher and state employee retirement systems, I’ve recommended $154 million and another $46 million to fund projected expenditures in the state health benefit plan.

My recommended bond package for FY 2013 is $700M, a slight increase over last year’s $632M. 
- You will remember that last year’s bond package reflected a major downsizing of previous bond packages.

Hopefully, I have captured the high points of my budget recommendations today.  In case you missed this, let me be clear:
• No new taxes
• This is small government focused on doing a few things well

I look forward to working with you as we seek to serve the citizens of this great state.  My door is always open!