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May 7--  Gov. Nathan Deal today signed into law the Fiscal Year 2014 budget, which takes effect upon the start of the fiscal year on July 1. This marks the third year in a row the governor successfully and conservatively balanced the state’s budget while reducing government spending by implementing austerity cuts, without raising taxes, and preserving Georgia’s coveted AAA bond rating.

“The General Assembly and I have once again enacted a budget that holds the line on spending, while funding the priorities that continue to help make Georgia the No. 1 place in the country in which to do business and create jobs,” Deal said. “Even with improving revenue numbers, state government faced another round of cuts because of the growth of expenses in education and in our Medicaid program. I commend the General Assembly once more for its responsible work, which focuses on the core functions of state government.”

Deal took a conservative approach in setting the revenue estimate given the national uncertainty with the federal debt limit and budget negotiations that could impact state revenues. In order to meet reduced revenue estimates and growth needs in K-12 and Medicaid, agencies again took 3 percent budget cuts, with the exception of select public safety and human services agencies.

Budget highlights:

·       Includes general fund growth of 4.6 percent or $818.5 million over the amended budget estimate. This includes the reauthorization of hospital provider payment legislation.

·       Includes $246.7 million to cover the growth in expenses for Medicaid and PeachCare.

·       Includes $146,583,599 for enrollment growth, training and experience of Georgia’s teachers to recognize a 1.36 percent increase in enrollment.

·       Includes $12,915,130 to increase the Pre-K calendar to 180 days, providing $312 million in lottery funds for 84,000 slots for 4-year-olds.

·       Includes $5 million in additional funds for cancer-related research and $45 million in bonds for a new cancer research building at Georgia Regents University.

·       Includes $92,065,000 in bonds for renovations, equipment and new building construction for the state’s technical college system.

·       Includes $50 million in bonds for the deepening of the Savannah Port.

·       Includes $47,199,479 for grants to charter systems that are within their initial contract.

·       Increases the award amount for HOPE scholarships and HOPE grants by 3 percent over FY 2013.

·       Includes $4,785,231 to open the new Rockdale Regional Youth Detention Center, and renovate and open the new Bill Ireland facility, a 30-bed youth development campus

·       Includes a zero-based budget analysis of 57 budgetary programs, including all programs for the Georgia Department of Education. Future budgets will continue to use a ZBB review process for approximately 10 percent of budgetary programs each year.