FY 08 budget passes

As the Senate moves closer to the final gavel of the 2008 session, the news at the Capitol this [past] week was the final passage of the Fiscal Year ‘08 amended budget.

This year’s FY 08 amended budget places an emphasis on natural resources, trauma care funding and education. We’ve added over $300 million to the existing $20.2 billion budgeted for fiscal year 2008. The final version of the FY 08 budget that was agreed upon contains:

• $40 million in new funding for the construction of reservoirs and $500,000 for the maintenance and improvement of existing reservoirs.

• New funding for state mental hospitals, child welfare services and the PeachCare program.

• $6.3 million added to the hazardous waste trust fund.

• $53 million in new funding for trauma care, some of which goes to Grady Hospital.

• $20 million in equalization funding for education to compensate for new student enrollment.

Given the recent prediction of slowing state revenues, I feel we have a fiscally responsible budget for the remainder of FY 08, which strikes a good balance between the critical needs of the state and the desire to keep state spending under control.

Some other bills passing the Senate this [past] week include:

• HB 1019 creates the Georgia Transportation Infrastructure Bank within the State Road and Tollway Authority. The measure will assist in funding new transportation and road projects in the state.

• HB 921 allows the Georgia Department of Banking and Finance to participate in a nationwide licensing system for mortgage brokers and lenders.

• HB 945 authorizes certain persons to access vehicle tag and title information in order to provide notice to the owners of towed or impounded vehicles.

• HB 1014 expands the Georgia Higher Education Savings Plan to include qualified tuition programs.

• HB 1026 exempts utilities from notice and hearing requirements when the Department of Transportation removes facilities that are obstructing road projects.

• HB 983 authorizes law enforcement agencies from neighboring states that are in fresh pursuit of a suspect who crosses into Georgia to arrest and hold such person in custody.

• HB 1245 reforms and streamlines the current indigent defense system in Georgia with the goal of maintaining solvency.

As always, please contact me in my office and let me know your opinions, your thoughts and your concerns.

[Sen. Ronnie Chance (R-Tyrone) represents the 16th Senate District, which includes Lamar and Pike counties and portions of Fayette, Monroe and Spalding counties. He may be reached by phone at 404-651-7738 or via email at ronnie.chance@senate.ga.gov.]

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