State Senate approves Gov's budget - CBS46 News

State Senate approves Gov's budget

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ATLANTA (CBS46) -

The Georgia Senate has approved Gov. Nathan Deal's $20 billion budget wish list.

The plan would add about half a billion dollars to k-through-12 education, allowing school districts to cover teachers' pay raises, eliminate furlough days and keep students in class the full 180-school year.

Parents CBS 46 spoke with say at least it's a start.

"It sounds like a great idea," said Christine Beatty, whose eighth-grade daughter attends Samuel Inman Middle School in Atlanta. "If it's truly for in-class education and teachers' salaries that mean a lot to the school district, then I'm for it."

Republican lawmakers said the additional spending shows the governor's commitment to public education.

State Rep. Charlie Bethel, the governor's floor leader, said school districts that wisely tightened their belts during tough times should be well positioned to benefit from the state budget.

"Districts that have been fiscally as responsible as the state has should be able to restore a full 180 days and should be able to take away furlough days," Bethel said.

State Sen. Jason Carter, Deal's Democratic opponent for governor, said the budget is hundreds of millions of dollars less than what the state would need to spend just to cover basic educational standards.

"What he's really done is pass the buck to the locals to make the tough choices," Carter said.

Alan Essig, who heads the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, said the governor would need to request a lot more money to fund his proposals.

When asked if the budget request would be enough, Essig said "it should be enough for the calendar year. It's not enough to ensure base pay raises for teachers. It doesn't do anything about class size, it doesn't do anything about the cuts in professional development, the cuts to materials, transportation. He would have to spend $750 million more."

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