Georgia legislators have agreed to an $18.3 billion budget that pours additional state money into tax investigators, Medicaid and domestic violence shelters.
Both chambers approved the revised budget Tuesday afternoon, after a joint House-Senate conference committee signed off on changes in the morning.
The spending plan now heads to Gov. Nathan Deal for his signature. It covers the fiscal year that begins July 1.
Budget writers confronted a billion dollar hole from the loss of stimulus dollars. They also had to account for a surprise $275 million deficit from the health insurance program for state employees.
The new budget fills most of the shortfall. State employees will pay about ten percent more in insurance premiums. But there’s still a $70 million Medicaid hole. House Appropriations Committee Chairman Terry England says hopefully the state will grow its way out of it.
"The governor has planned on a six percent growth in next year’s budget through his revenue estimate there, so if the economy continues recovering then there should be additional funds available then for the midterm adjustments" he said.
England says additional revenue could also come from hiring more tax agents, included in the budget.
Georgia is also funneling $1 million in new state funds to domestic violence shelters, supplementing federal money.
Contributors: Jeanne Bonner