The Georgia House passes its record $25 billion budget for 2018 that includes pay raises for state law enforcement, teachers, and caseworkers with the Division of Family and Children Services.
More than 3,000 law enforcement including state troopers will receive a 20 percent pay increase-- something Col. Mark McDonough, head of the Georgia State Patrol, says has already made a big difference since Gov. Nathan Deal made the recommendation last year.
“Our applications have been doubled and we see a much higher quality individual right off the bat,” he told WSB’s Sandra Parrish earlier this week.
The budget also includes $28.5 million for a 19 percent pay raise for DFCS caseworkers in an effort to attract more to the agency as well as retain the ones it already has. It also includes $50.7 million to increase the daily amounts that go to foster families.
“For a long time we have needed to let the foster parents know how much we appreciate them, and I think we’ve done that verbally. But it’s a completely different circumstance when you’re able to actually put money with that,” he says.
Teachers and state employees would also receive a 2 percent pay raise in the budget.
Appropriations Chairman Rep. Terry England (R-Auburn) says the spending plan also includes $600,000 to add four scientists and two technicians to the GBI’s crime lab to investigate a backlog of rape kits. The process, which began last year, has already had 50 hits on criminals currently in the system.
“Once something like this starts, there are many more than we ever realized were out there,” he told House members.
Nelly Miles, the GBI’s public affairs director, says the lab is able to process as many as 300 rape kits a month and the additional staff would mean 80 more.
“We’re making progress. The additional funding has been extremely helpful,” she says.
The House passed the budget 167-1. It now goes to the Senate which is expected to make its own recommendations. The two sides will have to reconcile their differences before the 40-day session comes to an end next month.