Monday, January 12, 2015, was the start of the 153rd Legislative Session of the Georgia General Assembly, marking the first day of the 2015-2016 term. All 180 members of the Georgia House of Representatives were sworn into office and speaker David Ralson (R-Blue Ridge) and Speaker Pro-Tempore Jan Jones (R-Milton) were both reelected to their respective positions.
Governor Nathan Deal held his inauguration and also delivered his annual State of the State address, where he conveyed his assessment of the current condition of our state government and goals for continued success in the new year.
In his address, Gov. Deal addressed the following key points:
– Georgia’s notable progress through the creation of 319,000 jobs and a 643 percent increase in the state’s rainy day fund and the future growth for the upcoming years, as companies like Mercedes-Benz USA and Porsche North America relocate their headquarters to Georgia.
– Existing needs to be addressed in the coming months by the General Assembly. He called for the establishment of an Education Reform Commission to continue to improve our education system. This commission will be studying the following topics regarding our education system: increasing access to Georgia’s early learning programs, recruiting and retaining high quality teachers, expanding school options for Georgia’s families, examine the most appropriate ways to modernize our Quality Basic Education (QBE) funding formula, which was created in the 1980s.
– He also suggested a constitutional amendment to create Opportunity School Districts, meaning the state would help to rejuvenate failing public schools. The General Assembly will continue to invest in education, with this year’s budget, along with his proposal for next year’s budget, brings in over one billion additional dollars for K-12 education.
– He continues to look at improving the quality of life for Georgia’s children by recommending additional funds for the Department of Family and Children Services. He also expressed support for the decriminalization of medical cannabis oil in Georgia for those that have obtained it legally in another state, meaning those who purchase the medical oil in another state could legally come back to Georgia.
– His last topic was on Georgia’s increasing transportation needs. Georgia is now the 8th most populated state. A cut to the state’s revenue from the excise tax has caused a rise in fuel efficient vehicles, so we will be working together with Governor Deal to fill in those budgetary gaps.
After Gov. Deal announced his goals, he then released his budget proposals on January 16. Just as in his State of the State address, he also made education a top priority in the state’s budget.For the Amended Fiscal Year 2015 budget for the current fiscal year, he designated $8.3 million directly to local school systems and an additional $35 million in grants to help classrooms across the state gain greater access to broadband internet. In his Fiscal Year 2016 budget, he set aside more than a half a billion dollars in new funding for Georgia’s education system, including $280 million that will help local school systems increase instructional days, eliminate furlough days, and enhance teachers’ salaries.
I wanted to share a few highlights from his budget proposals. My hope is to provide you with more information next week, once my colleagues and I carefully review the recommendations in our Joint Budget Hearings with the Senate. Head over to our website www.house.ga.gov to watch our hearings online, watch the House in action, view live and archived committee meetings, and review legislation that we are considering.
We also received our committee assignments for the 2015-2016 legislative term, this week. I am proud to announce that Speaker Ralston and the Committee on Assignments appointed me to serve on the following House committees: Ways and Means and Transportation committees.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me and share your thoughts and opinions as we move throughout the legislative session this year. You are always welcome to visit me at my office, which is located at 1320 Lakehaven Pkwy McDonough, GA. 30253. You may also call my office at 678-438-7181, or reach me via email me at email@example.com. Thank you for allowing me to serve as your representative.