Rep. Deffenbaugh: Capitol Update

Monday, January 27, 2014 - by Rep. John Deffenbaugh

The General Assembly’s most crucial responsibility each session is to pass two balanced state budgets: an amended budget for the current fiscal year and a full budget for the following fiscal year.  The full fiscal year budget uses a projected state revenue estimate to guide state spending from July 1 to June 30 of the following fiscal year.  The amended budget uses a more accurate estimate of state revenue and accounts for any discrepancies between the projected estimate and actual revenue obtained. Having already heard Governor Deal’s recommendations for both the Amended Fiscal Year 2014 (AFY 2014), and the Fiscal Year 2015 (FY 2015), we began the process of turning those recommendations into the actual legislation that will guide all state spending. Since all fiscal bills are required to originate in the House of Representatives, my colleagues and I quickly turned our attention towards the amended budget for FY 2014 by conducting a series of House Appropriations subcommittee hearings during our second week at the Gold Dome. 

Throughout the second week of session, these subcommittees met to hear from heads of state agencies and learn about their perspectives on the amended budget.  It was also an opportunity for our subcommittees to delve even deeper into the amended budget and ensure that state agencies are efficiently stretching their allotted funds to best serve Georgians. 

After the subcommittee hearings concluded, the subcommittees each passed their respective portions of the budget. The whole House Appropriations Committee then reviewed and passed a balanced budget for the remainder of FY 2014. On Friday, January 24, 2014, the budget, packaged in House Bill 743, went to the House floor. There, every member of the House had the opportunity to voice their opinions on it, before it was voted on and passed in the House by a majority vote.

The figures in HB 743 were very similar to what Governor Deal proposed in his budget recommendations that we heard in his budget proposal. Because state revenues have increased, we were able to add $300 million to the budget for AFY 2014, which is about a 1.5 percent increase from when we started the fiscal year.  This will ultimately increase our overall state spending for 2014 from $19.9 billion to $20.2 billion.

Over half of the “new” funds in the AFY 2014 went to K-12 Education. An increase of approximately $180 million is the mid-year adjustment for K-12 Education which will go to local school districts to pay for growing student enrollment numbers. In addition, a portion of these new funds will go to economic development initiatives in OneGeorgia, Regional Economic Business Assistance grants and transportation items.  For these projects, HB 743 adds $51.5 million for the Department of Community Affairs and $27 million to the Department of Transportation. We were also able to add $25 million to pay for increased enrollment in Medicaid and PeachCare for Kids health care programs. 

As the budget moves through the legislative process, I will update you on its status.  I will also keep you informed about other pieces of important legislation that arise during this legislative session.  Please contact me about any state issues that are particularly important to you or your family.  As your representative I am here to serve as your voice.  You can reach me at my Capitol office at 404.656-0202. 

John Deffenbaugh
District 1 State Representative

Smart Leaders Elevate Smartt

Phil Smartt is truly a homegrown candidate for county commissioner in District 7.  Born here, educated in the public schools here, he and Gloria raised their six children here, he built a very successful business here, and he has a life long record of investing himself in helping and serving the people of Chattanooga and Hamilton County.  I have found him to be kind, considerate ... (click for more)

Responsible Gun Ownership

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." And, no, that's not talking about the "national guard," lib-speak not withstanding.  After last Sunday's, April 13, Times editorial rant against legal gun ownership, I'm about ready to drop my subscription, especially after the ... (click for more)

Bus Driver Will Not Face Charges In Tragic Bus Accident

Sergeant Tommy Sturdivan announced in a Friday afternoon press conference that the investigation into the death of six-year-old Zackery Bryant at Chattanooga Valley Elementary has been officially declared complete and that there will be no criminal charges. Zackery died tragically on Monday morning after being hit by a school bus after stepping off. According to Sgt. Sturdivan, ... (click for more)

Soddy Daisy May Begin Effort To Allow Wine In Grocery Stores; Concussion Forms Required For Sporting Events; WWTA Chided For Causing Potholes

The Soddy-Daisy Commission is considering taking steps to allow wine in grocery stores now that Tennessee state lawmakers have voted to lift restrictions. To have the law appear on the next ballot for a vote, Mayor Janice Cagle said a petition with an amount of signatures totaling 10 percent of the number of voters in the last general election will have to be collected. Commissioner ... (click for more)

Soddy-Daisy Uses Eight-Run Inning To Subdue Lincoln County, 13-3

An early two-run deficit meant nothing to Soddy-Daisy’s baseball team Thursday night. Catcher Dillon Clift and pitcher Andy Wright each hit two-run homers, Tre Carter stole home and Soddy-Daisy scored eight runs in the second inning en route to a 13-3 win over Lincoln County in the Trojan Classic at Tom Higgins Field. “We’ve given up a few of those,” Trojans coach Jared Hensley ... (click for more)

Lady Mocs Softball Hosts MTSU

The Chattanooga Mocs softball team is set to host in-state rival Middle Tennessee Friday and Saturday at Frost Stadium in a non-conference two-game set.  The Good Friday game is set to begin 5 p.m. with Saturday’s finale starting at Noon. Chattanooga is currently 24-17 with a 9-5 Southern Conference mark – just 2.5 games back of SoCon leading Georgia Southern – while Middle ... (click for more)