ATLANTA — Despite cutting spending by $2.2 billion, the General Assembly found enough money in next year’s state budget to plow more funds into building projects across Georgia.
The final version of the $25.9 billion fiscal 2021 budget lawmakers adopted late last week doubles the bond financing for a series of projects on university, college and technical college campuses. But it does so by zeroing out the funding for other projects.
Throughout the budget review process, the legislature left alone the largest project in the $1.13 billion bond package for the coming fiscal year: a $70 million expansion of the Savannah Convention Center in Gov. Brian Kemp’s original budget recommendations.
But the budget that emerged from a joint House-Senate conference committee last Thursday doubled the bond commitments for the following projects:
$5 million for Phase III renovations at the Driftmier Engineering Center at the University of Georgia’s main campus in Athens.
$4.9 million to design, construct and equip Phase II of the Greenblatt Library at Augusta University.
$4.8 million for renovations to the Dublin Center and Library building on the Dublin campus of Middle Georgia State University.
$4.5 million for renovations to the Memorial College Center on the Armstrong campus of Georgia Southern University in Savannah.
$3 million to renovate the Williams Center at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro.
2.5 million to design the Humanities Building at the University of West Georgia in Carrollton.
$2.25 million to renovate the Georgia Veterans Education Career Transition Resource Center at Chattahoochee Technical College’s Marietta campus.
$2 million to design, construct and equip the Andalusian Interpretive Center at Georgia College & State University in Milledgeville.
$2 million to design, construct and equipment the Science Building Chemistry Lab at Kennesaw State University.
$1.3 million to design the Performing Arts Center at Valdosta State University.
$800,000 to design the Nursing and Health Science Simulation Lab at Albany State University.
An even more generous General Assembly increased from $6 million in the governor’s original budget to $20.1 million the funding to build the Lake Lanier Conference Center in Hall County. The money earmarked for that project rose at every step of the budget review process.
On their own, budget conferees also put up $6.7 million in bond financing for site acquisition, design and construction of the Center for Education and Entrepreneurship at Southern Crescent Technical College in McDonough.
The conferees agreed to $10.24 million the state House of Representatives had added to the bond package for infrastructure improvements to the Georgia World Congress Center in downtown Atlanta.
On the down side, lawmakers zeroed out the funding for some major projects, including $30.7 million that had been slated to go toward expanding Technology Square on the Midtown Atlanta campus of Georgia Tech.
Stone Mountain took a huge hit, losing the full $10.24 million that was to have gone for Phase II renovations at the Evergreen Conference Center & Resort. Another $3.56 million for campground renovations at Stone Mountain Park was axed.
On the coast, the conference committee removed $3 million in bonds for an expansion of the campground at Jekyll Island.