Governor calls for a record $23.7 billion in state spending

Gov. Nathan Deal released a record $23.7 billion spending plan Thursday that makes clear that the after-effects of the Great Recession are behind state government.

Chris Riley, the governor’s chief of staff, said despite about an 8 percent increase in the proposed budget, the state would be spending about the same on a per capita basis as it did in 1998.

The state’s population, and the state budget, has grown tremendously since then.

Deal on Wednesday announced plans to give 200,000 teachers and state employees 3 percent raises in fiscal 2017, which begins July 1. The raises would be the largest state-funded increases since before the Great Recession.

His budget plan for the upcoming fiscal year also includes an ambitious construction program that includes money for new roads and school facilities across the state.

Deal included $48 million to move Lanier Technical College from one end of his home county - Hall - to the other. The move is one of the governor’s pet projects, and he won support last session for a last-minute, $10 million, addition to the budget to buy land for the move. By the time the project is completed, the move could cost state taxpayers $100 million.

Overall, next year’s budget would increase $1.5 billion. More than half of that will go to road and bridge projects. Lawmakers approved a package of tax increases last session to fund the new transportation spending.

Including federal funding, state government would spend a record $47 billion in the coming fiscal year under Deal’s proposal.

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