It may not have hurt that the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Republican Jack Hill, comes from the region as a resident of Reidsboro.
Picking up funds are planned satellite campuses in Hinesville for Armstrong Atlantic State University and in Camden County for Altamaha Technical College. A satellite campus in Glynn County for Altamaha Tech retained funding in the Senate version that the House and governor had included in theirs. Coastal College of Georgia got back some money appropriated in a previous budget year that been directed to another project when the Coastal project wasn’t ready in time.
“We’re happy. We’re real happy,” said Sen. William Ligon, R-Brunswick, moments after the Senate passed the budget.
Now three senators will negotiate with three members of the House on the differences between the two versions.
Armstrong only got half of the $4.5 million it needs. If the House won’t match what the Senate put in, the project will be scrubbed at least until the following fiscal year, according to Tom Daniel, senior vice chancellor of the University System of Georgia.
“We’re hopeful that the other half will be discovered at the conference-committee level,” he said.
Sen. Buddy Carter, R-Pooler, has been pushing for Armstrong’s so-called Liberty Center because the Hinesville community has agreed to put up $6 million worth of land and improvements as a way to reach Army veterans retiring from nearby Fort Stewart.
“This is the type of project the state ought to be jumping at,” he said, noting that veterans were identified last year as a target by commission he chaired looking at the future of higher education.
Farther south, the Senate came up with $500,000 for planning the Camden County campus.
“The next step after this is funding for the actual construction of the school,” Ligon said. “With $500,000 that the state has invested in it, that’s an indication that it intends to proceed with the project toward completion.”
The school already had $13.5 million in the governor’s and House versions for a separate Golden Isles campus in Glynn County.
The House added $2 million for renovations of the College of Coastal Georgia’s Academic Commons South building that the governor had not included. That money replaces an appropriation from a previous year that got redirected to another project when the Academic Commons renovations weren’t ready to proceed.