As the General Assembly wrapped up its first week of the 2019 Legislative Session, the buzz around the Capitol focused on Governor Brian Kemp. In his fourth day on the job, Governor Kemp addressed a joint session of the General Assembly in his first State of the State Address, and his Office of Planning and Budget released his first budget proposals. Striking a theme of “building on solid ground,” his address and budget proposals set forth his vision for honoring the work of Governors Sonny Perdue and Nathan Deal by continuing their investments in economic development, education, criminal justice reform, and healthcare.
Find full coverage of Governor Kemp’s State of State Address and his proposals for the Amended FY 2019 and FY 2020 budgets in today’s #GoldDomeReport.
In this Report:
- Building on Solid Ground: Governor Kemp’ First State of the State Address
- OPB Releases Governor’s Amended FY 2019 and FY 2020 Budget Reports
- New Legislation
Building on Solid Ground: Governor Kemp’ First State of the State Address
Invoking a parable from the Sermon on the Mount, Governor Brian Kemp set the tone for his new administration early and often in his first State of the State Address today: they will build on the “rock solid” foundation laid by Governors Sonny Perdue and Nathan Deal to make Georgia the “#1 State for Small Business,” “the Hollywood of the South,” and the “Cyber Capital of the World.” In his speech to a packed House chamber, Kemp paid substantial homage to his two Republican predecessors and other state and federal leaders for their work to promote Georgia over the past 16 years while also revealing the most detailed take to date on his policy and budget priorities for this legislative session. He also pointed to Georgia’s plan for less than optimum financial times with $2.56 billion in Georgia’s rainy day fund.
At the top of Governor Kemp’s list is establishment of his Georgian’s First Commission, which will review regulations and government burdens to help the state improve its small business climate. He also aims to make significant progress on his commitment to increase teacher pay, committing to a $3,000 permanent salary increase for teachers in the coming fiscal year (state employees will also receive a 2% merit-based raise). Governor Kemp also intends to invest in school safety and security, proposing $30,000 in funds in the Amended FY 2019 budget for each Georgia public school to implement safety measures deemed important on the local level (a total of $69M), and $8.4M to expand the APEX program for providing mental health services in Georgia high schools. While funding teacher pay raises and school safety, he also noted that it was his intention to fully fund Georgia’s education program again.
Governor Kemp also focused on his interest in building upon Governor Deal’s legacy of criminal justice reform while combating organized crime in the state. After recognizing Georgia’s law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty, Governor Kemp announced a new Gang Task Force managed by the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council to address the 71,000+ gang affiliates in the state. But he also pledged his support to criminal justice reform issues that save costs, strengthen communities, and give second chances. Governor Kemp also recognized today the Covington Officer who was shot at point-blank range last year: Matt Cooper who was in the gallery for the address.
Finally, Governor Kemp addressed the issue that created substantial buzz this morning before his speech: healthcare reform. In calling for a “patient-centered” healthcare system, he announced a $1M commitment to fund exploration of “flexibility options” for Georgia’s Medicaid program. Notably, Governor Kemp did not use the word “waiver”, nor did he advocate Medicaid expansion, stating that he is interested in expanding access for patients, but not in expanding a “broken system.” Governor Kemp also called for legislators to expand the rural hospital tax credit and explore how the state can work to help educate more physicians to serve the state.
OPB Releases Governor’s Amended FY 2019 and FY 2020 Budget Reports
After Governor Kemp previewed a number of his budget initiatives this morning, his Office of Planning and Budget released his full budget proposals for Amended FY 2019 and FY 2020 at 2PM this afternoon. As proposed, Kemp’s Amended FY 2019 (“AFY2019”) budget reflects approximately $435M in additional spending over the original FY 2019 spending package, and his FY 2020 (“FY2020”) budget reflects approximately $958M in additional spending over the original FY 2019 spending package. The entire proposals are available online. Notable budget increases include:
Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disablities
- $8,513,031 to meet additional requirements of the Administrative Services Organization.
- $8,400,000 for the Georgia Apex Program (GAP) to provide support counselors for mental health services in high schools.
- $10,550,421 for the state's behavioral health services.
- $10,212,349 for behavioral health crisis bed capacity.
- $9,547,164 to meet additional requirements of the Administrative Services Organization.
- $4,939,920 for the residential treatment of addictive diseases.
- $4,249,798 for 125 additional slots for the New Options Waiver (NOW) and Comprehensive Supports Waiver (COMP) for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Department of Community Health
- $5,696,419 to replace the Medicaid Management Information System.
- $1,000,000 for an external consultant to review and analyze Medicaid waiver options for the purposes of drafting and preparing waiver policy recommendations for approval from the Governor's office.
- $480,000 (tobacco settlement funds) to serve medically fragile children through the Champions for Children Program.
- $2,300,148 for 112 new residency slots in primary care medicine.
- $500,000 for loan repayment awards for rural advanced practice registered nurses, dentists, physician assistants, and physicians.
Department of Corrections / Department of Community Supervision / CJCC
- $1,069,898 for 20 positions to expand the Georgia Prisoner Reentry Initiative to 10 additional locations.
- $13,000,000 in bond funds for the continued renovation and remission of Metro Reentry Facility in Atlanta as a reentry and transition prison.
- $4,300,000 for expansion of all levels of accountability courts to reduce recidivism of offenders.
Department of Education
- $68,820,000 for one-time funds for school security grants.
- $483,026,192 to adjust the state base salary schedule to increase salaries for certified teachers and certified employees by $3,000.
Department of Human Services
- $504,000 to assess the readiness of congregate foster care settings to become accredited qualified residential treatment programs pursuant to the passage of the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA).
- $9,884,773 for child welfare services for expenses associated with the increased number of children in state custody.
- $3,438,600 to implement the Family First Prevention Services Act (“FFPSA”), including $3M to upgrade the SHINES information technology system, and $438,600 for FFPSA implementation.
- $940,000 to implement a pilot program for closed foster care cases.
- $427,550 for new quality assurance and ongoing monitoring of child welfare support services providers.
- $750,000 for grants for civil legal services to Kinship Care families.
The following legislation of interest was introduced in the House today:
- HB 7, authored by Rep. Jesse Petrea (R-Savannah), amends Title 48 to create an income tax exemption for income received as retirement benefits from military service. This bill was referred to the Ways and Means Committee.
- HB 24, authored by Rep. Vernon Jones (D-Lithonia), amends Title 45 to require that all members of state and local boards, authorities, commissions, or similar entities be appointed by an elected official of the state or subdivision of the state. This bill was referred to the Governmental Affairs Committee.
- HB 26, authored by Rep. Dave Belton (R-Buckhead), amends Title 43 to implement the “Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact” (“PSYPACT”). PSYPACT allows for psychologists in states in which it is adopted to practice telepsychology across state lines and also provides limited in-person practice authority. This bill, similar to the legislation offered in 2018 by Rep. Joyce Chandler, was referred to the Interstate Cooperation Committee.
- HR 37, authored by Rep. Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville), creates the Georgia Commission of Freight and Logistics. This resolution was referred to the Transportation Committee.
The following legislation of interest was introduced in the Senate today:
- SB 18, authored by Senator Kay Kirkpatrick (R-Marietta), amends Title 33 to provide that a direct primary care agreement between a physician and individual patient is not insurance for purposes of regulation under the state’s insurance laws. The bill also sets forth requirements for such agreements and provides conditions under which a physician can decline to enter or discontinue a direct primary care agreement. This bill was referred to the Health and Human Services Committee.
- SB 20, authored by Senator Michael Rhett (D-Marietta), amends Title 36 to authorize the Department of Community Affairs to designate banking improvement zones for the purpose of encouraging development of branches or other banking resources in areas that are under served. This bill was referred to the Banking and Financial Institutions Committee.
- SB 21, authored by Senator Donzella James (D-Atlanta), amends Title 20 to require each local board of education to institute mandatory cybersecurity education for students in every year from K-12. The bill also provides for required elements of such cybersecurity education and calls for implementation by July 1, 2020. This bill was referred to the Education and Youth Committee.
- SB 24, authored by Senator Donzella James (D-Atlanta), amends Title 40 to require motor vehicle registration of electric personal assistive mobility devices unless operated by an individual possessing a valid handicapped parking permit. This bill was referred to the Public Safety Committee.
- SB 25, authored by Senator Bill Heath (R-Bremen), amends Title 40 to clarify the circumstances in which a driver need not stop for a school bus. This bill provides that drivers only need not stop for a school bus on divided highways separated by a grass or other prohibitive barrier. Current Georgia law is unclear and appears to exempt drivers on multi-lane roadways separated by a turn lane median from stopping. This bill was referred to the Public Safety Committee.
- SR 18, authored by Senator David Lucas (D-Macon), proposes an amendment to the Georgia Constitution to require that a sitting Secretary of State vacate his or her office upon qualifying for election to another federal, state, county, or municipal elective office. This resolution was referred to the Government Oversight Committee.
- SR 19, authored by Senator Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta), creates the Georgia Commission on Freight and Logistics. This resolution was referred to the Transportation Committee.
- SR 20, authored by Senator Larry Walker III (R-Perry), honors and commends the organizations and staff members of the Service Providers Association for Developmental Disabilities. This resolution was Read and Adopted.