Mid-year budget adding $1 billion in state spending on way to governor

The Georgia Senate gave final passage Wednesday to a mid-year budget adding $1 billion in new state spending - most of it for K12 schools and road construction.

The 53-0 vote sent the mid-year plan - which takes the state through June 30 - to Gov. Nathan Deal for his signature, the first major bill to win final passage in the 2016 legislative session. Deal quickly signed it into law.

Mid-year budgets are designed to fill in gaps in annual spending plans approved by lawmakers.

This one will send about $110 million to public school districts to help pay the costs associated with the rising number of students in schools.

Several other school programs would get more money. About $20 million would go to programs designed to let high school students get a head start toward a college degree by taking college courses. An additional $30 million is needed to fully fund HOPE and Zell Miller scholarships. And $15 million was tacked on to provide grants to local school systems for broadband Internet connectivity.

The budget includes an additional $750 million for road projects. That extra money came from fuel and hotel taxes that the General Assembly increased last year.

The final agreement also adds $70 million in one-time funding to expand medical school programs at Morehouse and Mercer University. The state received the extra money as part of a settlement agreement with the federal government over fouled-up Medicaid payments. Deal announced the allocation last week.

The state House is expected to vote by the end of the week on a budget for fiscal 2017, which begins July 1.

Legislators must approve the budgets before ending the 2016 session in late March.