This week, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp unveiled his proposed state budget for 2025, which may contain significant funding increases for the Augusta region’s criminal justice system, healthcare system, and educational system.
Following the governor’s State of the State address last week, the budget proposal was made public and will now be forwarded to the state legislature for approval. The General Assembly’s sole constitutionally mandated task during the legislative session is to pass the state budget.
Kemp’s proposed budget for this year includes a wide range of funding for state law enforcement agencies, community and behavioral health initiatives, and one-time pay increases for teachers and other state employees.
“Instead of expanding the size and scope of government, we’re putting state dollars to work in targeted, efficient ways to recruit, retain, and thank employees in vital roles from corrections officers to caseworkers,” Kemp said in his State of the State address on Thursday. “By doing this, we’re continuing our efforts to spend every tax dollar taxpayers give us wisely, from employees of state agencies to our public safety, schools, and healthcare system.”
Over 400 pages and various issues that will directly benefit Augusta are included in the proposal. A closer examination of Kemp’s budget can be seen here:
In his 2024 State of the State address, Kemp prioritizes tax cuts, public safety, and education.
Justice for Crimes
A $4.6 million grant to buy the Augusta Transitional Center, a minimum-security jail that can house up to 230 men, is the first item on the modified budget for fiscal year 2024. Currently, CoreCivic, a for-profit, private prison firm, manages the facility.
Additionally, $104,000 will be given to Augusta, Eastman, Macon, and Muscogee County to establish music studios at their Youth Development Campuses. These campuses serve youngsters entangled in Georgia’s juvenile justice system by offering them education, counseling, and other services.
Healthcare In fiscal year 2025, $1.2 million will be given to Serenity Behavioral Health Systems, a mental health clinic serving the counties of Columbia, Lincoln, McDuffie, Richmond, Taliaferro, Warren, and Wilkes.
Education Kemp’s proposal would provide a one-time boost to several educational institutions in the Augusta area:
Five million dollars will be given to Augusta University to rebuild its multidisciplinary research facility.
Thanks to a $458,000 grant in this year’s budget plan, full-time, benefits-eligible employees at the university’s Medical College of Georgia will get a $1,000 one-time wage bonus.
Additionally, $1.3 million will be given to Medical College of Georgia clinics and hospitals so that staff members can get a 4% cost-of-living adjustment.
More than $5.5 million will also be given to Augusta Technical College to develop and build a new commercial driver’s license pad.
Veterans’ Services: State workers in this field should anticipate receiving pay increases. Nearly $272,000 will be given to the 192-bed Georgia War Veterans Nursing Home in Augusta as a 4% cost-of-living adjustment for staff members. Additionally, the money will support the facility’s health insurance benefits and Teacher’s Retirement System.
The state House of Representatives will now consider the plan and utilize its recommendations in crafting its funding bill. The state Senate will review the bill after it passes the House, make any necessary changes, and then bring it back to the House for approval. The amended bill will travel to the governor’s desk and need to be signed into law within 40 days after passing the House.