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Ga. House, Senate Leaders Formally Approve Budget

ATLANTA (AP) - House and Senate leaders have formally approved a roughly $41 billion state operating budget comprised of state and federal money for the next fiscal year. 

The next stop is the desk of Governor Nathan Deal.  The final version looks a lot like what Deal pitched in January.

The state portion includes $19.9 billion, an increase of around $56 million.

The budget largely spares K-12 education from budget cuts, while many state agencies will see slight cuts. The pre-kindergarten school year will be expanded, as will HOPE grants for technical college students.  Some of that money will also go to the Education Center at Robins Air Force Base and to Mercer University, though dollar amounts aren't certain yet.

Deal has called for cutting payment rates to health care providers treating Medicaid patients. Lawmakers rejected that idea.

The budget year begins July 1.


Laurens County Jobless Rates Above Georgia Average

Laurens County Jobless Rates Above Georgia Average

Laurens County jobless rate in February was 10.8 percent compared to Georgia's 8.6 percent and metro Macon's nine percent.

The Georgia Department of Labor says  February unemployment declined to nine percent in metro Macon.

According to a release, that's down from February 2012, when unemployment for metro Macon was 10 percent.

Georgia's February unemployment rate is 8.6 percent, not seasonally adjusted.

From January to February, metro Macon gained 500 jobs and fewer people were laid off.

RELATED | Macon's Unemployment Up in January 2013

Most jobs were added in the professional, business, education, health care, trade, transportation, warehousing, leisure and hospitality industries as well as in in local government.

Metro Macon includes Bibb, Crawford, Jones, Monroe and Twiggs counties.

Summit Set to Address Veteran Homelessness

Summit Set to Address Veteran Homelessness

A summit to address veterans' homelessness is set to for March 26th.

This comes after the Secretary of Veterans Affairs set a goal for VA to end veteran homelessness by 2015, according to a release.

The summit will address six areas:

  • Outreach and education
  • Prevention
  • Treatment
  • Income/employment/benefits
  • Housing/Supportive Services
  • Community partnerships

The summit takes place at 195 Holt Street in Macon. Registration begins at 10:30 a.m. and events last from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m.

How to Write for 13WMAZ's Where You Live

How to Write for 13WMAZ's Where You Live

Where You Live is WMAZ's hyperlocal feature. This means that we are helping bring you more community-specific news more often.

We have websites for these communities:

Dooly-Macon County
Warner Robins
obins AFB

These community websites are a place for you and your community members to share information.

To join our team and share with folks just like yourself, all you have to do is email us your email address and name whereyoulive@13wmaz.com

From there, we set up an account for you. This account lets you log in to your community site and post photo galleries, concerts, community events, 100th birthday parties, your concerns, latest creative projects, how-to advice and anything else you want people in your area to know.

Once you have an account, here are some examples of how you can stay involved Where You Live:

(These are just ideas to get you started. Feel free to come up with your own blog ideas!)

  • Post about your hobby: 
    Music reviews 
    Movie reviews 
    Local fashion


  • Are you that person who always takes photos at the high school's football games or at community festivals?  You can log in with your new account and create a gallery to show off your photos on our site.
  • Have a story idea that may need a reporter in our newsroom? Send us a news tip by emailing eyewitnessnews@13wmaz.com
  • Where You Live is your space for public conversation.  Feel free to comment on others' articles. New ideas can crop up just from simple conversations with others.
  • See something bizarre around town? Take a (cell phone) photo and post it to your community site! Maybe someone else will know the background story.
  • Add an event to our community calendar. Click "Add an Event"  on your community site's event section.
  • Like" us on Facebook to include your local news, breaking news and weather warnings and watches in your Facebook feed.
  • Follow us on Twitter for breaking news and weather updates.

Senator Tolleson's Take on 'Crossover Day'

Senator Tolleson's Take on 'Crossover Day'


The Senate worked late on Thursday, revising and debating almost 30 bills before the midnight deadline of Crossover Day. Crossover Day is a rite of passage that all remaining Senate bills must go through before transferring to the opposite chamber – the House of Representatives.  If Senate Bills do not pass on Crossover Day, they are no longer considered a ‘live’ bill and must wait until 2014 for re-consideration.  Moving forward, we will begin taking up bills from the House and working on compromises between similar legislation in conference committees.

High Profile Bills Pass on 'Crossover Day' in Ga Legislature

Georgia lawmakers closed "Crossover Day" with the passage of several high profile bills Thursday.

Senate voted to ban Georgia law enforcement agencies from setting minimum waiting periods before they act on a reported missing persons case. That's Senate Bill 13. It will now go to the house.

Lawmakers in the House approved a plan to lower grade requirements for those seeking HOPE grants to attend the state's technical colleges. They voted 169 to 1 to send it to the Senate. 

The bill would return the qualifying grade point average to 2.0.

Senator Tolleson's Capitol Update

Senator Tolleson's Capitol Update


As we write this, the halls of the State Capitol are filled with the smell of peanut butter as today is Peanut Butter and Jelly Day, one of the most anticipated days under the Gold Dome!  PB+J Day brings a smile to the faces of legislators, staff and lobbyists throughout the building.  Our thanks to the Georgia Agribusiness Council and Georgia Peanut Commission for their sponsorship of this great event.  If you have never had a “fried PB+J”, you must treat yourself- you will be glad you did!