ATLANTA — Georgia lawmakers were debating the state’s proposed $32.4 billion budget Thursday.
It’s a budget that includes raises for state employees and law enforcement.
Channel 2′s Richard Elliott was at the state capitol today where even Democrats say the budget is mostly a good one.
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But they say it’s missing one thing - fully expanding Medicaid.
The House’s top Democrats say, except for that, this budget is pretty good.
But other critics point out this budget doesn’t fully fund the Hope scholarship, something Governor Kemp wanted in it.
Dublin lawmaker Matt Hatchett presented his first budget to the full House and admitted he learned something valuable from the appropriations process.
“I’ve also learned that $32 billion doesn’t go as far as you think it would,” Hatchett said.
That’s because every lawmaker wants something they can take home to their districts.
Here’s what’s in this House version.
The budget comes in at $32.4 billion, a $2 billion increase over last year.
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It includes about $13 billion for K-12 education, $35 million for mental health programs, $6.3 million for free and reduced school breakfasts and lunches, $2.25 million to support the state’s 988 suicide hotline.
Plus, for state employees, a $2,000 raise, a $500 bonus for state retirees, and a $4,000 raise for state law enforcement, something House Speaker Jon Burns said was badly needed.
“I believe it’s very important not just to pay lip service to those folks who risk their lives on a daily basis to protect the citizens of this state,” Burns said.
House Democratic Minority Leader James Beverly said they got a seat at the budget table and were able to get something into it that they wanted.
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Still, he said the budget once again misses an opportunity because it doesn’t fund a fully expanded Medicaid program.
“It falls short because we didn’t get him to expand healthcare to all Georgians. I mean, I can’t say that enough,” Beverly said.
Though the budget passed the House 167-1, the governor didn’t get everything he wanted.
It doesn’t fully fund Hope scholarships, it funds it at 95%.
It will now go to the Senate for another round of negotiations.
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