State House leaders are largely backing Gov. Nathan Deal’s plan to add $306 million in state government spending through the end of the fiscal year in June, with more than one-third of the new money going to schools and colleges.
The House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday approved the midyear budget for fiscal 2018 — which runs through June 30 — and the full chamber is expected to back it Thursday.
House leaders worked quickly on Deal’s proposal, and the Senate will likely do the same so lawmakers can get started on the governor’s $26 billion budget for the upcoming fiscal year.
Midyear budgets fill in gaps for the final few months of the fiscal year and are primarily used to pay for rising school and public health care expenses.
The midyear plan House leaders approved includes $118 million more to pay for rising school enrollment and charter school grants. Colleges would receive an additional $12 million.
Tens of millions of more dollars would go to pay health services for Georgia’s poor and disabled.
The plan includes $25 million to extend runways at airports outside of Atlanta, $10 million for beach renourishment to deal with damage done by recent hurricanes, $15.5 million for new school buses, and $15 million to help pay for a jump in children in the state’s foster care system because of the opioid crisis.
The House added $408,000 to fix a change lawmakers made last year in Advanced Placement funding. Legislators decided then to pay for a high school AP exam for students in “STEM” subjects, such as science and math.
Passing the test gives a student a leg up in college admissions and results in college credit, which can reduce the time, not to mention the money, it takes to earn a degree.
Until last year, the state ensured that every student from a low-income household got to take one AP exam regardless of the subject. Under the new policy, the subsidy was available to any student, regardless of household income, but only if he or she tested in a “STEM” subject.
The additional money will pay for an AP exam for all lower-income students, regardless of the subject.