State Sen. Jason Anavitarte, R-Dallas, filed a bill requiring voters to provide photo ID copes twice to request mail-in ballots. (Georgia Senate photo)

The following update was provided by State Sen. Jason Anavitarte (R – 31st District) on how proceedings are going at the Capitol in Atlanta during the legislature’s 40-day term. Looking for the previous update? Click here.

The third week in January is traditionally set aside to focus entirely on assessing the budget and plunging into the Governor’s recommendations for the fiscal year. As you may know, the one and only constitutional obligation the Georgia General Assembly has each year is to pass a balanced budget.

These deliberations are not taken lightly as it is imperative we fulfill this obligation to the best serve the needs of all Georgians at the lowest possible cost to taxpayers.

Here are some of the highlights from this week’s hearings:

It’s no secret that Georgia’s economy has outperformed the nation since the pandemic. By staying open and protecting jobs and livelihoods, Governor Kemp put Georgia in a position to thrive. We’ve been able to send over $1 billion back to taxpayers and suspend the state’s motor fuel tax because of how strong Georgia’s economy has been.

Since state revenues continue to be strong, Governor Kemp is again proposing we return taxpayer money to the taxpayers it came from. He’s recommending another $1 billion returned to those who pay state income tax and another $1 billion to offset property taxes which have sharply risen due to home sale price inflation post-COVID.

He’s also proposing approximately another $1 billion to cover the suspension of the state motor fuel tax we’ve enjoyed since last spring.

Each year, education in Georgia accounts for over 50% of the state’s budget. This year is no different. We must continue to invest in our education system at both the K-12 and higher education levels.

Last year, a large portion of funds were appropriated to fund the K-12’s QBE formula. This year, an additional $745 million is recommended in the Amended FY 2023 and more than $1.1 billion in FY 2024 for K-12 education, fully funding the Quality Basic Education formula.

It is imperative that we continue to build a workforce our growing state needs and that can only be achieved through providing our young Georgians with the highest level of education that will lead to fulfilling employment.

Healthcare in Georgia continues to remain a top priority. We know that healthcare remains a significant cost for many Georgia families. With that being said, I am pleased to see the FY 2024 budget recommends including $52 million to implement the Georgia Pathways Coverage program which was established pursuant to the Patients First Act, legislation that was passed in 2019.

The Georgia Pathways Coverage Program will increase access to adequate health insurance statewide and give Georgia families who struggle to find coverage through their workplace a better opportunity to provide care for their families.

When the Patients First Act was signed in 2019, Georgia only had four carriers offering plans in the individual market. Today, we have seen an astonishing 250% increase with 10 carriers offering plans for 2023.

While this is just a small fraction of what is recommended for the completion of this fiscal year and the upcoming fiscal year, I am pleased with the progress we have made thus far and look forward to getting these budgets passed through the General Assembly and signed by the Governor.

We will reconvene in the Senate Chamber Monday through Thursday for Legislative Days 5-8. We also plan to get back to work in our committees to assess legislation brought before us. If you have any questions or concerns related to the budget or any potential legislation that may come up this year, please do not hesitate to contact my office. I am here to serve you.

Sen. Jason Anavitarte serves as Chair of the Senate Majority Caucus. He represents Senate District 31 which includes Paulding and Polk Counties. He can be reached at 404.656.0085 or at

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