Jason Ridley

Jason Ridley

While most Georgia citizens take the opportunity to slow down during the summer months, your state government is full swing. July 1 marked the beginning of our brand-new fiscal year. A brand-new fiscal year means we begin anew where government funding is concerned; an acknowledgement of how our budgeting needs and priorities frequently change. Fortunately, our economy has greatly improved over the last few years, as we have successfully attracted new businesses and citizens to our fair state. This year’s 2020 fiscal year budget is an estimated $27.5 billion with education remaining the top priority. Below is a quick reference of how we are working to address issues of importance over the next fiscal year through our budget allocations.  

Education:

We are pleased to report that under the 2020 fiscal year budget, our Georgia educators will receive a much-deserved raise. Education plays a pivotal role in attracting new businesses as we work to better prepare Georgia’s workforce through various partnerships, opportunities and initiatives. 

 

  • $530 million to increase the state base salary schedule to provide a $3,000 pay raise for certified teachers and certified employees effective July 1, 2019
  • $16.5 million in lottery funds to increase the salaries of certified pre-kindergarten teachers by $3,000 and assistant teachers by 2%
  • $3.7 million to provide 2% and merit-based pay increases to state employees across the Department of Education
  • $2 million combined with $1.5 million in existing funds to increase funds for facilities grants of up to $100,000 each for charter schools
  • $1 million for additional high school counselors and programs for Title I schools
  • $100,000 for a two-year pilot to evaluate early reading programs for students with risk factors for dyslexia as prescribed by Senate Bill 48

Higher education:

  • $376 million in bonds for the University System of Georgia and Technical College System of Georgia
  • $88 million for the University System of Georgia and $3.5 million for the Technical College System of Georgia 
  • $15 million in lottery funds to raise the award amount for HOPE Scholarships by 3%
  • $3 million in lottery funds to increase the award amount for Zell Miller Scholarships 
  • $3 million decrease in state general funds for dual enrollment and $1 million addition in lottery funds (Early HOPE program)
  • $1.8 million for the Augusta University/University of Georgia Medical Partnership Expansion 
  • $349,000 for three Aviation Maintenance Technician program instructors
  • $250,000 to increase funds for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership at Georgia Tech with the Georgia Consortium for Advanced Technical Training (GA CATT) apprenticeship program

Health:

Did you know that close to 3.6% of adults in Georgia live with serious mental health conditions such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depression? To lessen the impact of mental illness, better our maternal mortality rates and provide quality care to all citizens, we have implemented the second largest allotment of budget spending towards healthcare initiatives.    

 

  • $107 million in combined state and federal funds for growth in Georgia’s Low-Income Medicaid program based on projected need. A $35 million increase in general funds will be matched by $72 million in federal funding under the state’s 67.3% Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP). 
  • $64 million in combined state and federal funds for growth in the state’s Aged, Blind, and Disabled Medicaid program based on projected need. 
  • $7.6 million to grow the state’s behavioral health crisis bed capacity
  • $500,000 for a Center of Excellence on Maternal Mortality at the Morehouse School of Medicine
  • $1 million to screen, refer and treat maternal depression in rural and underserved areas
  • $250,000 to fund a new grant program for hospital upgrades in rural counties with populations below 35,000 residents
  • $250,000 to increase funds for Mercy Care Health Systems to provide mental and primary health care services to the uninsured
  • $50,000 to expand comprehensive treatment, prevention, and recovery support services for pregnant and postpartum women with substance use disorder

 

Human services:

If you are not familiar with the Department of Human Services, I encourage you to research the vital role human services plays in our state. Its main goal of promoting stronger families is done so through ensuring the safety and wellbeing of our citizens, especially our most vulnerable, youth and elderly populations. Over the last several years, we have worked to pass legislation to assist this department better carry out the many duties of which they have been tasked.  

 

  • $2.7 million to increase funds for the Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) relative caregiver daily per diem by $1
  • $500,000 to increase program funding for the Childcare and Parent Services (CAPS) program that assists low-income families in affording the cost of childcare
  • $390,000 to the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council to provide state funding for one additional domestic violence shelter and six additional sexual assault centers

 

Rural Georgia:

It was not long ago that the rural areas of our state were thriving, healthy communities. Sadly, in recent years, those areas have been adversely impacted by a changing economic landscape. We have made a commitment to assist our rural communities by ensuring they have the resources and infrastructure needed to grow and prosper. I have no doubt that with positive policy changes and growth initiatives currently in place and to come, these areas will once again become the beating heart of Georgia.  

 

  • $2 million in funding for the Georgia Broadband Deployment Initiative
  • $1.5 million for the Census to be utilized by the state Complete Count Committee (CCC) to conduct outreach to hard-to-count areas
  • $1.3 million in bond funding for facility to repairs at farmers markets statewide
  • $1.1 million for airport infrastructure aid
  • $150,000 for grant funding to local visitor information centers in rural areas

 

As you can see, there is never a dull moment where your Georgia government is concerned. We hope this serves a guideline in giving you a better idea of what issues of importance we are addressing over the next fiscal year. As always, please continue to look for future updates concerning your government at work. We ask that you reach out to us anytime with questions and concerns. Your voice is important when ensuring our delegation votes reflect the values within our district. Thank you for allowing me the honor and privilege of serving you as it is a pleasure to work on your behalf under the Gold Dome.

Jason Ridley, R-Chatsworth, represents District 6 in the state House of Representatives.

 

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