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Governor Deal Proposes $700 Million Bonds Package

Mike Klein

Governor Nathan Deal’s Fiscal 2013 proposed budget includes $700 million in new bonded projects with $235 million for the University System, $177 million for the state Board of Education and $55 million for the Technical College System.  The overall bonds package is larger than $563 million proposed by the Governor last year.

The largest pieces of the University System bonds package are $59 million to design and construct an engineered biosystems building at Georgia Tech; $52.3 million for a new veterinary medical learning center at the University of Georgia; $35 million for general improvements; $28 million for a medical education commons at the Georgia Health Sciences University in Augusta; and, $25.2 million for a new health building at Georgia Gwinnett College.

Other pieces inside the University System bonds package include $8 million for the Georgia Research Alliance to purchase equipment and fund research and development infrastructure in Atlanta, Athens and Augusta.  The Georgia Building Authority would receive $24.4 million to purchase Fort McPherson property from the federal government and a separate $4 million package to retrofit the Fort McPherson Reserve Command building for eventual state use.

The Governor recommended a Georgia Public Broadcasting $3.48 million bonds package; $1.78 million for communications and information system upgrades, and $1.7 million for roof replacement and cooling system upgrades.  GPB is attached to the University System for budgetary purposes.

Bonds projects at the Department of Education include $25 million to purchase 320 school buses, $9.4 million for vocational equipment and $4.7 million for improvements at multiple locations.  The rest of DOE’s $177 million package is described as statewide capital outlays.

Most of the Technical College System $55 million is facilities repairs – there are lots of roofs, heating and air conditioning systems on the horizon.  A new training center would be constructed for $14 million.

Governor Nathan Deal

Deal announced $46.7 million in bonds for the Savannah River harbor deepening project during his Georgia Chamber of Commerce and State of the State addresses on Tuesday.  Georgia and folks up north in South Carolina are vying for federal dollars to deepen harbors because larger ships will begin to pass through the Panama Canal in just two years.  Savannah and Charleston are not ready to handle larger ships.

The Department of Community Affairs would get $25 million for water supply projects. The Department of Economic Development would get $18.37 million in bonds for the Georgia World Congress Center to acquire land and make renovations.  The Governor proposed $15.26 million for the Department of Natural Resources for repairs, renovations and land acquisition for wildlife management areas and parks.

Justice and public safety agencies would receive $14.3 million for the Corrections to replace 187 motor vehicles; make facilities repairs and enhance cell phone interdiction measures statewide; $8.7 million for repairs and improvements at the Department of Juvenile Justice; and, $8.5 million for Public Safety to replace 100 State Patrol cars, two helicopters and also to make repairs and renovations.

Elsewhere in Governor Deal’s proposed budget:

Year-to-year general revenue is estimated to increase from $18.55 billion current year to $19.22 billion next year.  Most of that increase is anticipated growth from individual income tax revenue, plus some improvement from general sales and use tax revenues.

Health care expenses continue to grow.  Medicaid and PeachCare are funded at $252 million.  The breakdown is $159.8 million for existing enrollment, $68 million for anticipated new enrollment and $19 million to offset a reduction in federal contributions.  The Governor’s Office estimates that 21,000 children of state employees will become newly eligible for PeachCare.

More than $33 million in state funds would be set aside to pay interest to the federal government on a $721 million loan Georgia took to help pay unemployment compensation benefits during the recession. The Governor’s Office Emergency Fund would appropriate $27.2 million and the remainder would come from within the Department of Labor’s state-funded budget.  The interest payment is due September 30 and it would not reduce the full principal also owed back to Washington.

State-funded dollars for the Department of Labor would be significantly reduced from $37.7 million to $14.4 million, which reflects the transfer of some responsibilities to other state agencies.  Federal dollars used to pay unemployment compensation benefits are the largest portion of the state DOL budget.

(Mike Klein is Editor at the Georgia Public Policy Foundation)

January 11, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Georgia Public Broadcasting Gets Zero-Based Budget Review

Mike Klein

Georgia Public Broadcasting was named in Governor Nathan Deal’s 2013 proposed budget as one of 35 programs that will participate in zero-based budget reviews.   GPB is the only state authority whose name shows up in the zero-based budget review category.   During his Tuesday evening State of the State address the Governor said 10 percent of all state programs would move to zero-based budgets.

Popularly known as GPB-TV and GPB Radio, the official name is Georgia Public Telecommunications Commission.  The state public broadcaster is attached to the University System Board of Regents for budget purposes.  Governor Deal’s 2013 proposed budget would give GPB a very slight budget trim to $12.3 million in state dollars, less than the two percent average reduction at other agencies, but still millions of dollars below the agency’s high water mark during pre-recession year budgets.

Governor Deal’s summary of zero based budget reviews is divided into five categories that were originally conceived under the now defunct Commission for a New Georgia:  Educated Georgia, Healthy Georgia, Safe Georgia, Best Managed State and Growing Georgia.

The Governor’s proposed budget was published Wednesday morning.  It states, “The purpose of the Zero Based Budgeting review is to assess a program against its statutory responsibilities, purpose, cost to provide services, and outcomes achieved. Ten percent of programs are examined each year, including a thorough evaluation of the activities and services provided by the program, the performance measures demonstrating program outcomes and effectiveness, and program spending trends. The total recommended reduction to the programs shown above is $8,890,376.”

Educated Georgia programs that identified for zero-based budget reviews include child care services at the Department of Early Care and Learning, technology and career education at the Department of Education, the central office at the Board of Regents and departmental administration at the Technical College System.

Healthy Georgia programs include adult forensic services at Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, health care access and improvement at Community Health; adoption services and elder community living services at Human Services; the state trauma care network commission at Public Health and the state Veterans Memorial Cemetery at Veterans Services.

Safe Georgia programs include departmental administration and probation supervision at Corrections; youth education services at Defense; the criminal justice information system at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation; the youth detention centers secure commitment program at Juvenile Justice; and, the public safety training centers program at Public Safety.

Many programs were identified in the Best Managed State category, including state purchasing at the Department of Administrative Services.  Three Governor’s Office programs were also named: the Governor’s Office for Children and Families, the Office of Student Achievement and the Office of Consumer Protection.  Four programs were selected at the State Personnel Administration including system administration and workforce development and alignment.

Also in the Best Managed State category, the Department of Labor business enterprise program will undergo a zero-based budget review as will the archives program at the Secretary of State’s office

Growing Georgia programs include marketing and promotion at Agriculture, tourism at Economic Development and airport aid at Transportation.

(Mike Klein is Editor at the Georgia Public Policy Foundation)

January 11, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment