The Senate voted Thursday to approve this midyear adjustment to the state budget for the remainder of fiscal year 2008, which ends June 30. The bill adds $300 million overall to the existing $20.2 million budgeted for fiscal year 2008. Funds included in the amended budget focus strictly on critical and emergency needs in the state.
The Senates version includes many of the funds agreed on by the Governor and House of Representatives, including $40 million to build new reservoirs and $500,000 for repairs. The amended budget also includes new funds for improving the states mental hospitals, for child welfare services and PeachCare. $6.3 million has been included for the Hazardous Waste Trust Fund, which will be used to clean up sites around the state. Finally, $53 million will be allocated for trauma funding.
On Wednesday, the Senate overwhelmingly approved a proposed Constitutional Amendment that would allow counties to join together and implement a special purpose local option sales tax, on a regional basis, for transportation projects. A majority of voters in those counties would have to approve levying the tax.
Senate Resolution 845 is intended to address a revenue shortfall for transportation projects across the state and provide a regional solution for counties where the need to reduce traffic congestion or improve area roads and bridges is particularly dire. The counties collecting the transportation tax, also known as T-SPLOST, would keep 80 percent of the proceeds for projects within those counties. The remaining 20 percent would be remitted to the state, which would be required to spend at least 10 percent of that amount on mass transit networks. As a Constitutional Amendment, SR 845 requires two-thirds approval in both the Senate and the House, and majority approval by Georgia voters in the general election this November.
Other important pieces of legislation that passed this week include:
SR 822: This resolution creates Georgia-North Carolina and Georgia-Tennessee Boundary Line Commission; Adopted on 02/20/2008 by 52 to 0; Sponsored by Sen. David Shafer (R-Duluth)
SR 722: This resolution creates the Grady Oversight Committee; Adopted on 02/21/2008 by 46 to 6; Sponsored by Sen. David Shafer (R-Duluth)
SR 748: This bill urges the Grady Health System to adopt changes to its employee health benefits plan to require its employees to utilize the Grady Health System for primary health care, in addition to urging Fulton County and DeKalb County to consider similar changes to their employee health benefits plan. The bill also urges the Grady Health System to end its closed staff model and open credentialing to community doctors to encourage other insured patients to utilize the Grady Health System for primary health care; Adopted on 02/21/2008 by 51 to 2; Sponsored by Sen. David Shafer (R-Duluth)
SB 395: This bill establishes the Safety Net Clinic grant program for the care and protection of indigent and elderly patients; Passed on 02/21/2008 by 49 to 0; Sponsored by Sen. Greg Goggans (R-Douglas)
As always, call or come visit when you need me . . .
State Sen. Jeff Mullis, a Republican from Chickamauga, represents Senate District 53, which includes all or parts of Walker, Catoosa, Dade and Chattooga counties. He can be reached by mail at 212 English Ave., Chickamauga GA 30707; on his local phone at 706.375.1776; by mail at his Capitol address at 421-A State Capitol, Atlanta GA 30334; at his Capitol phone at 404.656.0057; by email at email@example.com.
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