Georgia House budget 2023 pay increases
Teachers, state employees, legislators and retirees would all get raises.
ATLANTA – The Georgia state government’s 2023 budget promises more money for teachers, state employees, legislators and retirees, lower fees for college students, and more spending on mental health and police, thanks to generous government revenues.
Republican House Appropriations Committee Chairman Terry England of Auburn, who presented his final budget before stepping down from his elective office, called it “a considered and thoughtful plan for funding the future.” Our future, the future of our state.”
House Bill 911 goes to the Senate for further debate after passing House 155-3 on Friday. The document would spend $30.2 billion in state taxpayer money and a total of $57.9 billion, which would be a big boost since the state’s 2022 budget began, thanks to generous tax revenues and state support.
The document would continue $2,000 increases for teachers and $5,000 increases for state employees that will begin in the separate amended 2022 budget in House Bill 910, which won final passage in the Senate on Friday and was sent to Republican Gov. Brian Kemp became. The 2023 budget would also pay the first cost-of-living increase in 14 years to retired government employees who receive pensions from the workers’ pension scheme.
Among those who would receive a $5,000 raise would be all of the state’s elected officials, including the 56 state senators and 180 members of the House of Representatives. Lawmakers have long complained that low salaries discourage people from running for office or staying in office.
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Senators have traditionally been more hesitant about raises, but approved three months of the $5,000 increase starting April 1 when they approved the amended budget on Friday. Other state employees receive $3,750 in bonuses, but Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Blake Tillery, a Vidalia Republican, has said state law prohibits such bonuses to elected and certain appointed officials.
There would be an additional $2,000 increase in pay for wardens in prisons and juvenile justice facilities, an additional pay increase for nurses and other psychiatric hospital workers, and an additional $12 million to increase warden pay in private prisons where inmates from Georgia to be detained.
“Turnover cripples our ability to deliver the core services that a state should deliver,” England said, and extra pay rises could help retain and attract staff.
The state would increase university funding by $230 million, with Georgia’s university system agreeing to eliminate certain fees added during the Great Recession, effectively reducing student costs.
The house also plans to spend another $100 million on mental health as part of a major overhaul. The state is planning a new crisis center, a new 18-bed psychiatric unit, and is funding plans for mental health professionals to accompany police officers on assignments and create a form of involuntary outpatient treatment.
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The state would increase Medicaid money used to pay for home services for people with intellectual, developmental, or physical disabilities by $325. That’s 225 more than the normal 100 increase, but not nearly enough to erase the several thousand waitlist for search services. In addition, the number of subsidized housing vouchers will be increased by 500.
The state would also spend $65 million more on law enforcement as part of a push by House Speaker David Ralston. These include hiring 10 more state troopers for the state’s SWAT team serving many rural counties, increased pay for troopers working in Atlanta, and 10 more troopers for a DUI task force in the Atlanta, Macon, and Columbus metro areas.
“These are things that are needed,” England said afterwards. “We’re finally able to do some of that.”
The budget also restores some government funding that was cut early in the COVID-19 pandemic, such as funding for forestry and 22 game wardens. The state would also increase its payments to nursing homes and long-term acute care hospitals.