Greg Kirk: The important work of budget week
This week, the Senate and the House took a break from the 40-day legislative session to participate in a joint session to undergo budget hearings. During this time, representatives from Georgia’s state agencies discuss their budget and policy proposals with us to ensure they are receiving the funding they need and that your tax dollars are being spent in a fiscally conservative manner.
We kicked off on Tuesday with another address from Governor Nathan Deal which provided a more in-depth look at the fiscal details of his budget proposals. In addition to reiterating information from his State of the State Address, Gov. Deal also proposed the state provide a $25.8 million increase in funding for the Division of Family and Children Services to retain experienced social workers and a $3.9 million funding increase in per diem reimbursements for foster parents. He also gave us some specifics about his criminal justice reform agenda for the upcoming fiscal year: he proposed a $4.2 million increase to expand alternative justice programs such as second-chance programs and a $3.7 million increase to expand educational and vocational programs for inmates.
In this day and age, cybersecurity is something that companies and individuals alike should be taking seriously. Gov. Deal revisited his proposal for $50 million to be allocated for the construction of a cybersecurity center in Augusta. The Cyber Innovation and Training Center is designed to promote modernization in cybersecurity technology and infrastructure for both private and public industries. It is our hope that this innovative training facility will attract young people who are interested in cybersecurity and businesses that are concerned about the security of their own cyber infrastructure.
Education has been a top priority for the state of Georgia for as long as I can remember. This is not changing this year. With the population growth happening across the state, many of our schools have become overcrowded. For this reason, $240.9 million has been proposed for new school construction and equipment. It is my hope that this funding will permit new schools to be built and will ease the crowding of our K-12 schools.
There are a lot of funding increases in this proposal, and while I am an advocate for conservative spending, there is not a lack of funding for this fiscal year. Our great state is well on its way to recovery from the Great Recession of 2008, as we are experiencing growth in nearly every economic measure; sales tax revenue is up, employment is up, consumer spending is up, and more.
As your senator, I will ensure that the surplus that we are currently experiencing does not go to waste. I will work with my colleagues to ensure we are spending responsibly and maintaining a balanced budget. If you have any questions regarding the budget or the budget process, please feel free to reach out — my door and phones are always open!
Sen. Greg Kirk, R-Americus, represents the 13th Senate District which includes Crisp, Dooly, Lee, Tift, Turner, and Worth counties, and portions of Sumter and Wilcox counties. He may be reached at 229.854.9706 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.