Gov. Brian Kemp, shown before a high school tour on Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020, wants to know why Georgia Military College officials think they don’t have enough for raises for workers. REBECCA WRIGHT / FOR THE AJC
Photo: Rebecca Wright
Photo: Rebecca Wright

Georgia Military College says more money needed to pay $1,000 raises

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s proposed budget, which is being picked apart by state lawmakers in some areas, is facing another challenge.

Although Kemp wants to give $1,000 raises for all state workers making less than $40,000, one organization says the governor’s office has not budgeted enough money for them to make the governor’s plan a reality.

Georgia Military College officials say the budget includes $41,990 to the college for those raises. The college, though, said it has 267 employees who qualify for the pay increases. The college said it needs an additional $254,000 in order to pay all 267 workers.

“We will not be able to pay our employees $1,000, or if we do pay them, it will be $115 per employee with the amount that was given,” Curt Rauhut, a retired brigadier general who is GMC’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, told a committee of state senators on Wednesday.

GMC leaders, who stressed they supported Kemp’s idea, discussed the issue with their staff at a meeting Thursday.

“Our hope is that the Senate or House will see there’s not enough money in the governor’s budget that pays for all of this and it gets fixed during the legislative process,” Rauhut said in a telephone interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Kemp told the AJC on Friday he thought the college could indeed give the raises to its workers.

“They’ve got a unique (funding) model down there, so I’d be interested to learn what the reasoning is behind those comments,” Kemp said.

Georgia Military College is not part of the University System of Georgia, so it receives its own funding from the state. Its proposed budget is about $7.65 million.

Georgia Military College operates a junior military college and a prep school for students in grades 3 through 12. Kemp’s proposed budget includes $235,000 for $1,000 raises for workers making less than $40,000 a year at the prep school. It also proposes $2,000 raises for some additional workers at the prep school. GMC officials, though, say the budget for raises at the military college is $41,990.

GMC is a liberal arts college with about 16,000 students at 15 campuses statewide. About 2% are in its cadet program to become U.S. Army commissioned officers. The rest are traditional students or take courses online. Military service is not required to be a student.

The college mainly provides associate degrees in about two dozen programs throughout the state. Its most popular programs are pre-nursing, business administration and criminal justice. The college, headquartered in Milledgeville, was founded in 1879.

Its motto: “Start Here … Go Anywhere!”

Most of the GMC employees in line for raises work in food service, grounds maintenance and as custodians. Some, too, are faculty, admissions advisers and student success coaches, Rauhut said.

Rauhut said he addressed his concerns about the raises with Kemp’s budget team, but “I can’t really say we got a good answer on it.”

Kemp submitted a budget several weeks ago that directs all state agencies to cut spending by 6% for the upcoming fiscal year to both prepare in case of an economic slowdown and provide money for his priorities. State lawmakers held budget hearings this week, out of concerns that some cuts would be too severe.

Lawmakers are particularly worried about cuts to mental health and substance abuse programs, rural economic development, agricultural research and food inspections, and criminal justice and public defender programs. One subcommittee voted Thursday to recommend adding funding for five food safety inspectors and two animal inspectors.

Georgia’s House of Representatives is expected to approve a midyear spending plan next week. The proposal will move on to the Georgia Senate.

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