ATLANTA, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) — Governor Brian Kemp held a press conference on June 30, 2020, breaking down some of the key highlights of the nearly $2.6 billion state budget he signed for the 2021 fiscal year, amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The budget includes a $950 million reduction in K-12 education funding, and it pulls $250 million from reserves to cover shortfalls.

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To view the full itemized highlights of House Bill 793 (fiscal year 2021 budget), click here.

During the briefing, Kemp weighed in on the challenges of passing a balanced budget during a public health crisis, which has spurred a substantial economic recession, while avoiding furloughs.

He recapped some of the key items legislators passed, targeting healthcare, education, public safety and infrastructure.

Education: 

  • 53% of 2021 budget is dedicated to education.
  • The budget takes into account a 7.8% enrollment increase at state charter schools.
  • It also provides over $55 million in additional lottery funds for HOPE Scholarships and grant programs to meet projected demand.

Healthcare:

  • The FY 2021 budget funds the projected growth in Medicaid and PeachCare, which is nearly $270 million.
  • Includes $19 million in new funding to offer six months of postpartum Medicaid coverage for Georgia mothers.

Public Safety:

  • The budget includes resources to expand the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Gang Task Force.
  • It funds a 50-person trooper school and supports personal services and operating expenses for motor carrier officers in the Ports corridor.

Infrastructure:

  • It includes $1.1 Billion in a bond package for several facility, road repair and construction projects.
  • The budget allocates $12 million in bond funds for facility repairs and improvements at the Georgia World Congress Center Authority.
  • It also includes $335 milion in bond funds to support capital needs in local K-12 school systems. 

Kemp also discussed where the state stands in terms of the COVID-19 pandemic, saying he has seen some encouraging signs while also acknowledging Georgia is “not out of the woods” yet.

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He referenced a steadily declining coronavirus case fatality rate, saying nearly one million people have been tested and indicating hospitals have adequate surge capacity and the ability to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to those who require it.

He also indicated the state’s economy has seen some positive momentum, as businesses slowly reopen and companies announce relocations and expansions.

To watch the briefing, click on the video.

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