The Georgia House passed its version of the Fiscal Year 2024 budget on Day 31 of the legislative session. 

The budget, House Bill 19, includes increased funding for education, more funding for mental health services, and a raise for law enforcement officers around the state. 

Law enforcement officers will get a $2,000 raise on top of another $2,000 raise for state employees. The increase is aimed at curbing high turnover rates.

$1.25 million was also allocated for a new Georgia State Patrol post in Buckhead to address public safety concerns in the area. 

Appropriations Chair Matt Hatchett (R-Dublin) presented the budget. Hatchett is serving as appropriations chair for the first time after longtime chair Terry England retired at the end of last year's session. 

"I learned that there are a lot of needs out there," he said about his first year as chair of the committee. "Most of them are important, urgent, or both."

The budget also addressed increases in funding for some medical facilities.

The extra money aims to help address the effects of pandemic-era Medicaid policies ending. Millions of Georgians could lose medical coverage as these policies unwind.

The Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disorders will get a bump in funding to establish more behavioral health crisis centers, the crisis mental health hotline, and increase the salary for psychiatric staff. 

Georgia's retirees will also benefit from the budget, as state pensions will increase by 1.5% and retirees will get a $500 bonus check. 

The HOPE Scholarship also received increased funding in HB 19, but not as much funding as some had hoped.

Currently, students qualifying for the HOPE Scholarship get 90% of their tuition at public Georgia colleges paid for. The new budget will increase that percentage to 95%. Gov. Brian Kemp proposed fully funding the HOPE scholarship.

The scholarship covered full tuition for eligible students until 2011 when funding was reduced because of budget cuts.

Georgia high school students can still go to college on a full-tuition scholarship if they qualify for the Zell Miller scholarship, which requires a higher GPA and standardized testing score. 

Hatchett said that the different scholarships help reward students for a higher GPA. 

Rep. Stacey Evans (D-Atlanta), a longtime advocate for fully funding the HOPE Scholarship, said the cut was unnecessary. 

"We have the money to return the full promise of HOPE to all of our HOPE scholars," she said, adding that students receiving the Zell Miller scholarship would get their tuition paid either way. 

HB 19 passed the House and now moves to the Senate, where it will likely undergo more changes. Only one lawmaker, Rep. Charlice Byrd (R-Woodstock) voted against the bill.