Pay Raises for Teachers, State Workers Sail Through Georgia House

Dave Williams

Friday, March 8th, 2024

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The Georgia House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a $36.1 billion fiscal 2025 state budget Thursday with generous raises for teachers and state employees made possible by a huge surplus.

“This is an awesome budget that addresses the needs of every Georgian from all walks of life,” House Speaker Jon Burns, R-Newington, said following the 172-1 vote.

The budget, which takes effect July 1, would increase state spending by $3.6 billion – or 11% – over the original fiscal 2024 spending plan the General Assembly adopted last spring.

It includes 4% pay raises for most state employees, with an additional $3,000 one-time increase for state law enforcement and correctional officers. Workers in state agencies suffering from high turnover also would receive additional targeted raises above the 4% salary hikes.

“Agency attrition is a problem,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairman Matt Hatchett, R-Dublin. “The slow, steady increase in salaries … is moving the needle on state employee recruitment and retention.”

The budget also includes $2,500 raises for public school teachers. Separate legislation the House passed last month would provide salary increases to superior court judges, judges on the state Court of Appeals, and justices on the state Supreme Court.

With the state sitting on a $16 billion surplus, House lawmakers approved significant increases for education and health care, either agreeing with Gov. Brian Kemp’s budget recommendations or adding to the spending plan Kemp proposed in January.

The budget includes $249.6 million to account for public school enrollment growth, $204 million for more school buses, and $104 million in grants to improve safety on public school campuses. Each public school in Georgia would receive a $45,000 safety grant.

The spending plan also includes $146 million to fully fund reimbursement increases for health-care providers to Medicaid patients.

“We constantly are losing providers because we don’t reimburse them enough,” Hatchett said.

The fiscal ’25 budget now moves to the Georgia Senate.