Senate Appropriations Chairman Blake Tillery, R-Vidalia, said the Senate went along with key additions to the budget made by the House.
They included paying for 500 new school buses and increasing support for nursing homes hit hard by COVID-19. The Senate also backed Kemp’s proposals to add high-speed internet in rural areas and provide 10% raises for corrections and juvenile justice guards.
Kemp and lawmakers have faced criticism in recent weeks for not boosting state funding for the Department of Public Health before and during the pandemic.
House budget writers added money for a chief medical officer, deputy commissioner and chief data officer, plus $18 million to quickly modernize the computer system that tracks immunizations. The Senate increased that to $27 million, and it added positions for a senior programmer and a financial manager.
Still, Senate Minority Leader Gloria Butler, D-Stone Mountain, said the state should be putting more money into public health care and increasing efforts to vaccinate teachers.
“I believe we could have done more, we should have done more,” Butler said.