Georgia Senate passes $37.5B amended fiscal 2024 budget

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(The Center Square) — The Georgia Senate passed its version of an amended fiscal 2024 budget, a spending plan that includes $37.5 billion in state taxpayer money and covers state spending through June 30.

The Senate voted 161-2 in favor of House Bill 915, while the state House previously voted 54-1 in favor of the plan. It now heads to the Joint House and Senate Appropriations Conference Committee to hash out the differences; the committee’s first meeting is set for Monday morning.

It represents a roughly $5 billion increase from the more than $32.4 billion lawmakers approved last year as part of the original fiscal 2024 budget. Coupled with roughly $18.5 billion in federal tax money, the “total public funds” allocated in the spending plan balloons to more than $61.8 billion.

“The AFY24 Budget makes necessary investments in our education system, economic development projects, transportation infrastructure, public safety, and agriculture industry,” Lt. Governor Burt Jones, a Republican, said in a statement. “These investments are a part of our ongoing efforts to prioritize education and keep our business environment thriving in Georgia.”

Earlier this year, Republican Gov. Brian Kemp proposed an additional $1.5 billion for transportation funding, and the revised budget includes roughly $5.6 billion for the Department of Transportation, up from about $4 billion originally allocated. The spending plan includes more than $3.8 billion in state funds for the transportation department and roughly $1.6 billion in federal tax money.

According to an overview, the Senate Committee on Appropriations’ version of the funding plan adds $250 million for local transportation projects, $250 million for local water and wastewater infrastructure projects and $100 million for Regional Economic Business Assistance grants. The state House added $27 million in additional tax dollars for airport aid, while the Senate further increased that amount.

In addition to finalizing the amended fiscal 2024 budget, lawmakers must pass a fiscal 2025 budget.