Update Posted January 27, 2014
Governor’s Joint Appropriations Address
As you all know so well, over the last several years we have had to make difficult choices in our budget, but together we have managed to not only maintain a balanced budget, but also to rebuild our Rainy Day Fund. We have done so without raising taxes on Georgians, in fact we have reduced them.
As of the end of Fiscal Year 2013, the Rainy Day fund totals more than $717 million.
Since 2009, the FY 2015 budget marks the first opportunity the state has had to not just fund the most basic needs in our budget but to also make strategic investments in our state’s long-term economic health.
…The proposed spending per capita in the FY 2015 is 10 percent below what it was 10 years ago. Looking back over the last 25 years, current per capita spending is less today than it was in 16 of the last 25 years, and is on par with what we were spending in 1990.
So while revenues are expected to be up in FY 2015 …when we look at real spending per Georgian, we have significantly reduced the size of state government. We are doing more with less and using every taxpayer dollar as efficiently as possible.
Over the last five years, as a result of budget cuts, we have reduced the number of state employees by 12,750, a 16.5 percent decline. Our current workforce is serving a greater number of Georgians with fewer people, and I’d like to take a moment to thank them for their hard work and dedication in serving the citizens of this state.
State employees have not had an adjustment to their salaries since 2008. …Our employees are the foundation of the services that the state provides to its citizens, and we must recognize the contributions of those hard-working and dedicated individuals. My budget includes almost $40 million for state agencies and $11 million for the Board of Regents to provide performance based pay increases or to adjust salaries for certain positions to improve competitiveness in recruiting. …We want to ensure that we retain our best and brightest employees and also are able to attract talented new employees to careers in state government.
Much of our revenue growth since the downturn has had to be directed towards meeting growth needs in Medicaid and PeachCare.
It has been a primary goal of my administration to ensure that Georgia is seen as a global destination for business. Site Selection magazine has named Georgia as the number one state for business, and our job creation performance supports that designation. 2013 was a record year for job creation in this state.
One of the most important resources we must have to attract global investment is a world-class workforce capable of meeting the needs of a rapidly changing global economy. We must invest in our citizens first and foremost to ensure that each and every one of them is equipped with the skills they will need for success in the workplace.
We know that by 2020, over 60 percent of jobs in Georgia will require some form of postsecondary credential from either a technical college or a university. To help our students meet this benchmark, my FY 2015 budget provides nearly $47 million in additional financial assistance for our students to use in accessing the high quality higher education opportunities we have in this state. This includes more than $22 million to provide a three percent increase in the award amount for HOPE scholarships and grants to assist students with tuition and an additional $5 million for the Strategic Industries Workforce Development Grant.
In closing, let me say that the future of this state is bright. I look forward to working with you during the session, and I know that together we will continue to show the world that Georgia is where you want to call home.
Posted by Sonja Roberts
Published in: Governance