Become A Georgia Budget Expert: This Year’s Surplus

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.

About the Become A Budget Expert series:

In the state of Georgia, every one of these issues comes back to the budget. We have to have a balanced budget every year. We have critical needs in Education, Health Care, and Transportation. And we have to accomplish all of our goals in these areas and more while having a tax burden that keeps Georgia an attractive place to live, work, and operate a business. Thus, Georgia’s budget is at the crux of virtually every major policy decision.

As such, our PolicyBEST Policy Analyst Zack Lindsey has prepared a series of six short videos that break down our budget process, as well as show where the funds come from and where they are spent. We’ll show the difference between revenue growth and surplus funds, how Georgia’s budget has changed over the last decade, and finally do a comparison of Georgia’s budget and tax burden to that of our neighboring states.

The goal of these videos is too provide raw numbers and facts, as a resource for you to expand your knowledge on Georgia’s budget.

Video 1: The Budget Process.
Video 2: Where Do Georgia’s Budget Funds Come From?
Video 3: Where Does Georgia Spend Its Tax Dollars?

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Ellynn Recent comment authors
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Is there a way we can have this show up in a few elected officials desks? Maybe take over some of their yearly budget meetings and just have it pop up on their laptops whenever they say ‘the state has extra funds we should get.’