The 2014 General Assembly ended with the passage of a $20.8 billion budget to run the state for the next year and featured the first sizable increase in K-12 education spending in over 6 years.
In his session summary last Friday, 4th District Senator Jack Hill said the largest single increase was in the QBE funding formula for teaching, which increased $314.3 million and was focused on ending furloughs and getting students and teachers back in the classroom for the full 180 days. Equalization was fully funded at $479.5 million with a $5 million addition, and funding for school nurses increased by $414,585. A $5 million Innovation Grant Program was created to reward and recognize K-12 innovative initiatives. The Bond package included Capitol Outlay funds to build new schools totaling $275.2 million.
Hill said technical colleges gained several new programs: Tuition assistance totaling $5 million for high demand job training like diesel mechanics, welding, health and technology; $7.3 million for "Zell Miller" Scholarships paying 100% tuition for students with a 3.5 GPA or higher; $2.15 million for tuition and costs for dual enrolled students, and; in lottery funds, Gov. Deal created a $10 million Low-Interest Loan Program.