At last we leave the safety of the shallow end of the budget knowledge pool, and dive into deeper waters that require a comfortability with the basics to tread. Consider videos four through six of this series from PolicyBEST a bit more advanced and hitting at a deeper level for discussion here at GeorgiaPol.
Georgia has been fortunate over the past few years of recovery that our revenues have been increasing. Many activists and even a few legislators have taken to calling this year over year increase a “surplus”. That’s not exactly correct. Expenses go up from year to year with both population growth and with inflation. If Georgia pays a fixed amount per student to local school districts under QBE, and the number of students go up, then the state either sends additional money to the growing districts per year, or the local Boards of Education will see a “cut”. Thus, some of Georgia’s “surplus” revenue is already spoken for just to maintain existing programs.
In this fourth installment of Become a Georgia Budget Expert, we’ll break down where Georgia’s increase in revenues goes just to maintain the status quo, break out the additional money raised by HB170 that is required to go to the Georgia Department of Transportation by Constitution and by law, and ultimately show how almost $2 Billion in new revenue yields a much smaller discretionary surplus of about $400 Million – enough to give state employees their first significant raise in 8 years. And not much else.