ATLANTA – Pledging to remain tightfisted as tax collections rise, Gov. Nathan Deal signed into law the 4.6 percent increase in state spending Monday that the General Assembly passed two months ago.
“We believe this is a budget that will maintain the fiscal conservatism of the other budgets I have signed,” said the governor, who is in the third year of his term.
Deal waited until the last day before the measure would have become law without his signature. Most governors postpone signing the budget because it delays announcement of line-item vetoes that might anger legislators or special-interest groups, but Deal didn’t exercise his veto power. It’s the first budget in recent memory that allowed all legislative spending proposals to remain.
He did offer a cautionary note for next year in light of rising tax collections due to economic improvement.
“In the hard times, restrain is a matter of necessity. In the good times, it is a matter of discipline,” Deal said, adding that he’ll ensure legislators don’t go overboard with new spending in the future.
The $19.9 billion budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1 is $819 million higher than the current year’s spending plan. Most of the increase goes to cover obligations for healthcare and education.
It also includes additional lottery funds to restore the Pre-K program to 180 days of instruction and more slots for 4-year-olds. It boosts lottery money for the HOPE Scholarship and grants.