The House and Senate gave final approval to a $17.9 billion budget for the upcoming year that cuts education spending but keeps alive arts programs and provides $10 million to buy land for the new College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta.
The House had eliminated the Georgia Council for the Arts from the upcoming year’s budget. But budget negotiators agreed to provide $790,735 in state funding next year to keep the council going.
Basic funding for schools and colleges was cut more than $600 million in the budget for fiscal 2011, which begins July 1. That will mean furloughs and layoffs in local school systems and sharply higher tuition at universities and colleges.
The recession has caused the state to cut back in many areas. Two of Gov. Sonny Perdue’s bond projects – one to expand a horse facility at the state fairgrounds in his home Houston County and another aimed at supplying money for rural economic development – were slashed from the budget.
However, House and Senate leaders added more than two-dozen bond projects to the budget. The state is already expected to spend $1.2 billion next year making payments on money it borrowed for bond projects.
Among the projects added were: $6.4 million for “infrastructure expansion” at Kennesaw State University; $4.7 million for a humanities building at Georgia State University; $7 million to renovate lab space at Georgia Gwinnett College; $10.9 million for a sciences building at Atlanta Metro College; $2 million to upgrade the amphitheater at Lake Lanier Islands, and $1.5 million to provide local and federal matching money for work being done on the Atlanta-Chattanooga high speed rail project.
Lawmakers paid for the added items, in part, by cutting $100 million from the $300 million bond package Perdue proposed for road projects.