By Lynne Riley, State Rep. (R-Dist. 50)
During our second week of session, my colleagues in the House of Representatives and I completed one of our most important tasks.
The General Assembly’s most crucial responsibility each year is to pass two balanced state budgets: an amended budget for the current fiscal year and a new budget for the following fiscal year.
The amended budget updates the FY2014 budget that was enacted in 2013, using more accurate estimates of state revenue and accounting for any discrepancies between projected estimates and actual revenues received.
All fiscal bills are required to originate in the House of Representatives, so the House Appropriations subcommittees quickly began their work on the amended FY2014 budget.
The subcommittees held hearings during our second week at the Gold Dome to hear from heads of state agencies and consider their perspectives on the amended budget. The hearings provide an opportunity for our subcommittees to analyze the financial data in the proposed budget in detail and to make revisions to optimize services to Georgians.
On Friday, January 24, 2014, the budget, packaged in House Bill 743, was voted on and passed in the House by a majority vote.
Because state revenues have increased, we were able to add $300 million to the budget for AFY 2014, which is about a 1.5% increase from when we started the fiscal year.
Over half of the “new” funds in the AFY 2014 went to K-12 Education. Approximately $180 million is budgeted to go to local school districts to pay for growing student enrollment numbers. Details of the AFY2014 budget proposal and other budget information may be found at opb.georgia.gov.
Now that the amended budget has passed the House, it will repeat the same process in the State Senate. The House Appropriations committee will now turn their focus to the FY 2015 budget.
This week, I introduced three bills in the House of Representatives. House Bills 761 and 843 seek to modify state law as it pertains to public retirement systems, in order to comply with Federal regulations. HB 788 seeks to preserve the tax-exempt status of public property on Georgia’s University System campuses in order to allow private operation of housing facilities. You may view these bills at http://www.legis.ga.gov by using the search tool.
Also this week, the House Natural Resources and Environment Committee met to consider HB 715, sponsored by Rep. Mark Hamilton. HB 715 seeks to clearly define land uses on Jekyll Island, one of Georgia’s most magnificent natural resources.
HB 715 provides that “the (Jekyll Island- State Park) authority is empowered to convert no more than 1,675 acres of the total land area of Jekyll Island into developed land. All residual acreage shall forever be retained as undeveloped area.” The Committee voted in favor of HB 715.
I support HB 715 as a method to protect the natural beauty of Jekyll Island from expanding development.
I invite you to visit the Capitol while we are in session to see your legislators at work. You can also stay in touch by visiting our website at www.house.ga.gov to watch the House in action, view live and archived committee meetings, and review legislation that we are considering.
I hope to hear from you on your ideas and opinions regarding the issues facing Georgia, and your suggestions on how we can enhance your quality of life. Please call my office at the State Capitol at 404-651-7737.
Editor's note: Georgia State Rep. Lynne Riley represents the Johns Creek area.