ATLANTA, Ga. (WJBF) – State lawmakers are looking ahead at budget plans for 2022 as the road to recovery from the pandemic begins.
Just a few weeks back, the governor signed off on the 2021-2022 budget, which focuses heavily on school resources, transportation and funding for rural Georgia.
The bulk of the State Budget helps Georgia schools.
State Senator Jen Jordan said, “Look a billion dollars was cut from public education last year. That was restored. That’s a positive.”
“We have the highest paid teachers in the SE US,” said State Representative Jesse Petrea.
State Representative Teri Anulewicz said, “I hope we can also pick up the conversation on how we can get more funding for pre-k and needs based HOPE.”
Another huge piece of the pie is expanding healthcare coverage, with 76-million allocated to help low income families.
“We didn’t use the budget to expand Medicaid. We could save rural hospitals, we could do so much and we chose not to,” said Jordan.
Petrea said, “”We have got money in there to have new clinics to serve people who are poor, increased Medicaid for post partum mothers.”
Lawmakers also want to drive funds to help fix roads and bridges, with more than 300-million dollars allocated for that.
“Now we are talking about running AMTRAK between Atlanta and Nashville, Atlanta and Charlotte, I support. How we apply to this money to make life better for everyday Georgians,” said Anulewicz.
Petrea said, “I think our budget is very powerful is showing us the frail, the weak, the disabled, and school children are what is most important to us.”
This year’s budget also prioritized rural Georgians to expand broadband internet.
For next year, lawmakers hope more funds are spent to help small businesses to expand Medicaid and fund schools to retain teachers in Georgia.
State lawmakers will be back at Capitol next January for a 40-day legislative session to propose new laws but constitutionally the only requirement is to pass a balanced budget.