BRADENTON, Fla. - Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal proposed a $47.5 billion budget for 2017 that includes a slight uptick to $850 million in bond issuance.
Deal said the state anticipates collecting about $1 billion in new revenue during the upcoming fiscal year, enabling him to recommend a 5% increase over the current total budget.
"My team and I have worked diligently with our state agencies to produce meaningful recommendations that will resonate in the lives of Georgians," Deal said. "This includes investing in education, prioritizing our transportation needs and continuing to spur economic growth."
For the general fund, Deal proposed $23.74 billion, a 3.15% increase over the current budget.
The reserve, or rainy day fund, would top $1.43 billion. Deal has said in recent speeches that the level of reserve funding would help protect the state's triple-A ratings.
The budget also calls for 3% pay raises for teachers and other state employees.
Deal proposed the issuance of $850 million in new state general obligation bonds in fiscal 2017, an increase over $800 million in debt financing authorized in the current budget.
Projects that the governor recommended for financing include $512.9 million for public schools, universities, and technical institutions, and $100 million for bridge renovations and replacements.
In his joint address to the Legislature on Monday, Deal said that the state's insurance programs for the poor are growing in size and cost even without Georgia expanding the Medicaid program.
Medicaid and PeachCare costs, he said, have grown from $2.6 billion in fiscal 2013 to $3.1 billion in 2017, an increase of 15.7%.
Combined, the two insurance programs for the poor are expected to increase by $109 million in fiscal 2017 over the current year.
In a letter to lawmakers with his budget Thursday, Deal said that a bill revamping transportation funding during the 2015 session resulted in nearly half of the new revenue designated for road projects.
Deal's budget recommends $1.72 billion for the Department of Transportation in fiscal 2017, up from $824 million this year.
As a result of Transportation Funding Act of 2015 approved in House Bill 170 last year, the state's general fund lost more than $180 million because the fourth penny of the state gas tax was shifted to the transportation budget.
Other measures in the bill to address new and backlogged transportation needs broadened the excise tax on gas and eliminated a related state sales tax, placed a $200 fee on electric vehicles while removing a tax credit for them, and instituted a $5 a night fee on hotel and motels.
Opponents of HB 170 have indicated this year that they will attempt to abolish some of the funding measures, including the fee on electric vehicles.
On Tuesday, a day after the legislative session began, Deal rolled out a comprehensive infrastructure maintenance plan to invest and track funds resulting from funding changes last year.
The plan includes an 18-month project list estimated to cost $2.2 billion investment, and a 10-year list representing more than $10 billion in investment, he said during a press conference.
Deal also launched what he called "an accountability measure" on a new website at http://www.garoads.org/ to track spending and progress.
The Georgia General Assembly's annual session runs through late March.