Gov. Nathan Deal traveled around the state Monday to sign the $23.7 billion fiscal year 2017 budget that includes money for a pay boost for state employees and substantial funding for transportation infrastructure projects.
At a stop at Lanier High School in Buford, Georgia, Deal was joined by a delegation of state legislators as he laid out the details of the budget, like the $300 million earmarked for salary increases for the state’s teachers.
“We have tried to eliminate furloughs, which do translate into pay raises for those teachers who’d had to lose money because of being out of work for those furlough days,” Deal said. “But this year we had the money we felt was appropriate to use for the 3 percent pay raise.”
However, the raises aren’t guaranteed: school districts will have the final say on what to do with the additional funds.
And teachers aren’t the only state workers who could see a pay increase: the budget also earmarks $172 million for raises for all state employees, directing $56 million specifically to raises for high-turnover state jobs like public health nurses, corrections officers and public safety officers.
The budget also sets aside $825 million dollars for transportation projects across the state. Funding for the work comes from the Transportation Funding Act of 2015, which increased fuel and hotel taxes to help the state pay for its backlog of road and bridge repairs.
The budget also OKs the state to authorize $100 million in bonds for other transportation maintenance projects.
The fiscal year 2017 budget goes into effect July 1. It’s the only piece of legislation Georgia lawmakers are constitutionally required to pass and the governor is required to sign each year.