1/19/2018 - SORRY I missed sending you a note last week. I just didn't get it done before heading back to the capitol for the third week of the session. For the past two weeks we have began the state budget process, which is the most important responsibility we have during the entire legislative session, The joint House and Senate Appropriations committees met for a series of hearings to review Governor Nathan Dealís budget recommendations. We also had the opportunity to question agency and department heads for two days. I will have say the antiques chairs in the hearing room get hard after 6 hours. We have had a good number of folks from the 11th District in the capitol during the past two weeks. It's a sight for sore eyes to see someone from home at the capitol. Thanks you for taking the time to come to Atlanta.
Gov. Deal presented his comprehensive budget proposal, himself to the members of the House and Senate Appropriations committees. His Fiscal Year 2019 (FY 2019) budget is the largest budget to be presented to the General Assembly in our stateís history. Georgia has experienced a tremendous economic boom in recent years, and because of our stateís success, we have maintained our AAA credit rating, been named the No. 1 state in which to do business for five consecutive years, invested billions of dollars in education and grown our Rainy Day Fund. Our Stateís financial success and robust economy have made Georgia a national leader economically, and Gov. Dealís budget proposals build upon these successes, as well as create new prospects for growth.
We all know that Georgiaís future economic success heavily relies on a better-connected and more efficient transportation network. Gov. Dealís FY 2019 budget recommendations include more than $1.9 billion in annual funding to maintain and enhance our stateís transportation infrastructure, as well as an additional $100 million to repair and replace bridges throughout the state.
Education has consistently been one of Gov. Dealís and the legislatures top funding priorities, and in his final budget proposal, the governor continued his commitment to Georgia's students by investing in many education programs and initiatives. Gov. Dealís AFY 2018 budget includes $102.1 million for a midterm adjustment for K-12 enrollment growth and $10.7 million for growth in the Dual Enrollment program. The governorís FY 2019 budget proposal also adds $127.6 million to fund K-12 enrollment growth and training and experience for Georgia teachers. Additionally, Gov. Dealís FY 2019 budget allots $1.8 million for the REACH Georgia Scholarship program, which would provide 226 additional scholarships statewide and expand the program into 44 new school districts. ( We need this in Pickens County ) The governor also added $361.7 million for our stateís Teachers Retirement System to fully fund the stateís determined employer contribution.
Healthcare has also continued to be a top priority in our stateís budget. Since 2011, our state has invested almost $240 million in behavioral health, and as a result of this investment, we have seen a significant decline in individuals civilly committed to Georgiaís behavioral health hospitals. The governorís FY 2019 budget proposal allots $15 million to continue to fund Georgiaís intellectual and developmental disabilities waiver services and to provide supportive housing for Georgians in need. Gov. Dealís recommendations also include $3.5 million in the AFY 2018 budget and almost $7 million in FY 2019 budget towards the Childrenís Autism Initiative. Additionally, the governorís FY 2019 budget allocates $22.9 million to fund crisis services, therapeutic foster care, Apex grants, telehealth services, suicide prevention, wraparound services, supported employment and education and opioid prevention and treatment, which were all recommendations made by the Commission on Childrenís Mental Health. Georgiaís behavioral health services have helped countless Georgians to thrive in our state, and investing in such services is critically important so we can continue to assist these citizens.
Finally, the governorís proposed budgets provide state dollars for several essential programs and initiatives that meet the wide-ranging needs of all of our stateís citizens. The governorís FY 2019 budget proposal provides funding for Georgiaís child welfare services, including $15.1 million for growth in out‐of‐home care utilization, $10.1 million to continue to increase Georgiaís foster parent per diem rates.
These are just some of the highlights of the governorís budget proposals. I will discuss a few each week so we don't over do the numbers here. The House Appropriations subcommittees will hold hearings next week to continue to review these proposals and delve even further into the governorís recommendations. I am on the Higher Education Sub committee that looks at everything past K-12 education.
The House will be back in session on Monday, January 29, and we have another busy week ahead of us as our committeeís start meeting and discussing bills brought forward by legislators across the state. . I know you know this but I encourage you to visit me at my capitol office, or call me if you have any questions or concerns regarding the state budget bills, the legislative process or any other measures being considered under the Gold Dome. As your Representative at the Georgia State Capitol, I want to know what issues are most important to you, your family and our neighbors, and I welcome any opportunity hear feedback from my constituents. My office is located in the capitol in room 401, my office phone number is 404-656-7857, and my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Please reach out to me any time.
Thank you for allowing me to serve as your Representative.