Georgia House, Senate approve record $27.5 billion budget with raises

The Georgia House and Senate gave final approval Thursday to a record $27.5 billion budget for the upcoming fiscal year, including raises for more than 200,000 teachers and state workers.

The overwhelming votes in each chamber came less than a week before the 2019 session is slated to end. It now heads to Gov. Brian Kemp for his signature.

Lawmakers plowed a record $600 million into pay raises for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1.

Teachers are set to receive a $3,000 pay raise, while tens of thousands of state and University System of Georgia employees would see 2 percent increases.

“This balanced, conservative budget reflects our values, funds our priorities, puts the safety of our families first and delivers a well-deserved $3,000 pay raise for Georgia educators,” Kemp said after the vote. “With this bipartisan budget, we have shown that Democrats and Republicans can set politics aside and put hardworking Georgians first. By working together, Georgia will remain the best place to live, work, build a business and raise a family.”

It would be one of the largest teacher pay raises in state history. Gov. Zell Miller pushed 6 percent pay raises for four years during his second term in the 1990s in an effort to make average teacher pay in Georgia the highest in the Southeast, but increases have been small or nonexistent many years since the Great Recession hit in the late 2000s.

The spending plan includes more than $1 billion in new borrowing, including $150 million for a new voting system in Georgia and hundreds of millions more for k-12 schools and university buildings.

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