BRADENTON, Fla. - Georgia's 2015 budget is now on the desk of Gov. Nathan Deal.

State lawmakers approved a $42.4 billion spending plan March 20 and sent it to Deal before ending the legislative session.

The budget includes about $900 million in bonds, most of which would go toward education projects.

Smaller authorizations in the bond package include $35 million to continue the state's contribution to the harbor dredging project at the Port of Savannah, and $17 million to finance a parking garage at the Georgia World Congress Center where the $1.2 billion stadium for the Atlanta Falcons is being constructed.

Several years ago, the Legislature refused to make changes in the Georgia World Congress Center Authority's budget to assist with financing the stadium.

Atlanta officials then approved a plan of finance authorizing the Atlanta Development Authority to issue $200 million of revenue bonds backed by a local hotel-motel tax as the public contribution to the facility. The team is paying the remaining cost. Those bonds are expected to be issued by June.

In other action during the legislative session, lawmakers in both Republican-led chambers agreed to put on the November ballot a constitutional amendment that, if passed, would prohibit the Georgia General Assembly from increasing the state income tax that is currently in effect.

"If approved by voters this November, Georgia will be the only Southeastern state that constitutionally prohibits income tax increases," said Sen. David Shafer, R-Duluth. "This measure will help Georgia compete, attracting business and encouraging job formation."

The resolution calling for the statewide referendum required two-thirds of the legislators in each chamber to pass. The tax rate is currently 6%.

The Georgia Policy & Budget Institute said if the amendment passes it would limit the ability of state lawmakers to adjust the state's level of tax revenue and pay for services.

"The cap would hinder lawmakers' ability to fully fund education and other public services, especially in the event of an emergency such as a natural disaster, or in response to a deep economic downturn," the institute said.

The offices of all 236 state lawmakers are up for election in November, as is Deal's.

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