Balancing the Budget

Lots of numbers and commas

For those of you who do not know… I am a social worker. A small factor in my decision to major in social work in college was that there were no required science courses and just a “wee bit” of math courses required to graduate. The “wee bit” turned out to be statistics and I had to take it twice! Now I did learn how to balance my check book (although I did not do this as regularly as I should have in college and beyond) and years later learned how to manage a household budget in order to improve my marriage (this could be a whole ‘nother blog)! I am not a lover of numbers or as adept at them as I am at many other things. Why is this important to you? It is a good preface to my explanation of Georgia’s Fiscal Year 2016 budget.

GABudget

Kindergarten version of the process

The Governor released his budget during the first week of the session. The House Appropriations Committee then hears from advocates and legislators and makes a budget recommendation that is voted on and must pass the House chamber, this year it is known as HB 76. The Senate Appropriations Committee then does the same and reviews the additions/cuts that the House made. The Senate then votes on their budget recommendations and it must pass the Senate (this occurred on Friday, March 20, 2015).  The final step before going to the Governor’s office for signing is review by the Conference Committee (3 members of the House and 3 members of the Senate) to work out the differences between the two versions (House and Senate). This means there is one more opportunity to advocate or oppose changes in the budget to members of this committee. The Senate Budget and Evaluation office will post a document of the “differences” that should be able to be found here once it is ready. 

Easy reading for some?

You can follow all of the above steps by Department and Line Item while reading the budget. The first column shows the Governor’s budget number, the middle column shows the House budget number and the far-right column shows the Senate budget number (designated by SAC). Feel free to choose this as easy reading (just 247 pages) over lunch today or with your morning coffee tomorrow. Click here to view.  The budget is easily divided by Department in Alphabetical Order. It is easy to be intimidated by the 7,8 and 9 digit numbers (my household budget never gives me that experience) that are on this document, but don’t let the numbers scare you and read on. It is a public document and made for the average person to decipher so it can be done!

Re-read the details of HCBS funding adds (please)!

I posted mid-week on my blog with the exciting news of our additions to HCBS money. Guess what? I read the budget wrong and incorrectly reported. So here is my correction and admission of error. (Maybe this is why I prefaced this post about my college math experience!) I incorrectly reported that the Senate matched the $1.5 million from the House and added $384,000 to HCBS services. In fact, they kept in the 1.5 from the house and only added the $384,000. Their goal was to take 1,000 people off the HCBS wait list and that is what they did… not the 1,796 that I erroneously reported. You can read the details on page 119 of the 247 page budget, listed under Elder Community Living Services. Please don’t be disappointed because you thought the increase was double that due to reading the “Newbie blog!” An addition to any budget- household or state- is something to be grateful for.