OPB Director Walks Lawmakers Through Proposal

Cindy Morley

Thursday, February 13th, 2020

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State legislators took an unexpected recess this week to dig deep into the state’s budget — and Tuesday Gov. Brian Kemp’s budget director spent time walking lawmakers through the proposed plans for the Amended FY 20 and FY 21 budgets.

“While we are making cuts in some areas, remember that we will still spend more in the FY 20 amended year budget than we did in FY19, and we will spend more again in the FY 21 budget,” said Kelly Farr, Director of the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget.

House budget leaders are working to reach an agreement on budget cuts proposed by the Governor. Kemp has called for a 4 percent reduction this year and 6 percent next year for most state agencies. While education, Medicaid and transportation are exempt from the mandated cuts, Farr said the proposed cuts should save the state about $216 million this year and approximately $341 million in the next fiscal year.

According to Farr, health and education make up 77 percent of the state budget, and most of the growth in the FY21 budget is a result of mandatory spending. This includes an increase of $168 million in education funding formulas, $369 million to cover a $2,000 pay increase for certified personnel and Pre-K teachers, and $240 million for Medicaid expansion growth and other federal Medicaid requirements.

Another $45 million reflects the $1,000 pay increase the Governor has proposed for all state employees earning less than $40,000 a year.

Growth in the amended FY 20 budget includes $145 million for K-21 enrollment growth ($123 million for Quality Basic Education funding and another $18 million for State Charter Schools). The amended FY 20 budget growth also reflects $10 million for the Governor’s Emergency Fund.

Most of the proposed budget cuts are what Farr referred to as “non-intrusive reductions” and come in the areas of travel, technology, elimination of vacant positions and administrative reorganizations. Farr said the state expects to save over $7.5 million in travel expenses in the amended FY 20 budget and over $10.5 million in FY 21.

Farr added that $70 million a year is expected to come from the elimination of more than 1,200 vacant positions throughout different state agencies.

According to Farr, the Governor’s office did not recommend cuts to the Office of the Child Advocate, funds for crime victims, funds for aging services, funds for victims of domestic violence and pilot programs for foster care cases.