published Friday, January 24th, 2014

Georgia House OKs $41 billion revised budget

ATLANTA — The Georgia House approved a revised $41 billion state spending plan on Friday, one of the fastest budget votes in recent years.

House lawmakers voted 163-1 for a revised budget for the fiscal year ending June 30, and the bill now heads to the Senate for consideration. Friday was the ninth day of the legislative session.

"It's been an expedited process somewhat, but a simplified process because there hasn't been an awful lot to take care of," said Rep. Terry England, R-Auburn, who is chair of the House Appropriations Committee. "We've gone through every line looking at the governor's recommendations, and there were simply few changes to be made."

Every year, the governor submits a revised budget plan that reflects changes in revenue or spending by departments. The revised budget includes more money for education and hospitals treating poor patients, funds railroad repairs and trims some spending requested by the state's court system.

"I don't remember ever getting (an amended budget) out by Jan. 24," said House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, who was first elected in 2003. "We have really focused on the budget process."

Lawmakers must still set a budget for the coming fiscal year beginning in July. By law, the state must pass a balanced budget by the end of the legislative session.

House and Senate leaders have indicated they expect lawmakers to move quickly on their legislative agendas this year. The state's primary election has been moved up to May 20, and elected officials are prohibited from fundraising during the session.

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