ATLANTA – The Senate’s version of next year’s budget that passed Friday adds funds to what members of the House included for local building projects at colleges and libraries, a seawall in Savannah and railroad bridges.

Gov. Nathan Deal leaves a cushion in his budget outlines for the House and Senate to add funds for their own spending priorities without upsetting the balance he engineered. Most of the funding comes in the form of borrowing through bonds, and generally it goes to either small projects or the planning costs for big projects that aren’t ripe for a larger appropriation in the coming year.
Senate Appropriations Chairman Jack Hill told his colleagues both chambers took advantage of the available bond money.

“You’ll see the House added some projects, and we added some project, and in some cases the House, the Senate and the governor all contributed to certain projects from the shares we each had to work with,” said Hill, R-Reidsville.

Since there are differences in the versions passed by each chamber, a six-person conference committee began negotiations Monday to iron out the discrepancies. What it comes up with is what will go to Deal’s desk to become law, unless he vetoes it. He also has power to remove whole items listed in the budget, but he can’t change the amount on any item other than eliminating it completely.

Here are the local projects added by the legislature beyond what Deal already recommended:

– Rail bridge rehabilitation over the Oconee and Ocmulgee rivers in Toombs and Walker counties for $8.9 million

– Construction of a seawall on Hutchinson Island in Chatham County for $3.5 million

– Ogeechee Technical College in Statesboro, $650,000 to design a plant-operations and logistics center

– Altamaha Technical College, $1.1 million to design a Camden County campus

– College of Coastal Georgia in Brunswick, $2 million for library renovation and expansion

– Athens and Tifton Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratories, $1.5 million for equipment

– Georgia Regents University in Augusta, $1.5 million to upgrade electrical equipment

– Construction of a public library in Bogart with $1.75 million

– University of Georgia’s Tifton campus, $5 million to design, construct and equip a dairy building

– Armstrong State University in Savannah, $1.8 million to design the health-professions classroom

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