Session Update- Week One
Last Monday, I was honored, with Missy by my side, to be sworn into office beginning a new term as the Senator from Georgia's 30th. As we begin a new session, I look forward to addressing many of the issues facing our district and Georgia citizens. Soon after the ceremony, we began working immediately in preparation for the long days ahead.
The Georgia General Assembly meets for only 40 legislative days every calendar year, which usually spans from January to April. While three months sounds significant, it really isn't that much time when you think about the issues we need to tackle. This year will be no shortage of controversy or debate as we discuss casino gaming, medical cannabis, public safety, healthcare access and education reform.
State of the State
On Wednesday, January 11th
, Gov. Deal delivered his annual State of the State
address covering our accomplishments from last year while highlighting hopes for the new. The Governor's agenda includes a 20 percent pay raise for state-level law enforcement officers and newly developed officer training courses; an expansion of veteran assistance programs and healthcare access; expansion of Medicaid and PeachCare for Georgia youth; strengthening of Georgia’s drug monitoring program; two percent pay increase for teachers.
The largest proposal in Gov. Deal’s agenda includes plans for the development of the Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center
, a $50 million state-owned facility designed to promote innovation in cybersecurity technology. In conjunction with the Department of Defense and the National Security Agency this center will be teaching and preparing students to combat cyber-attacks. The addition of the Cyber Innovation and Training Center will ensure that Georgia is leading the national effort in preventing and fighting cyber-attacks, a major concern in today’s world.
Out of the many budget proposals presented by Governor Deal, I most look forward to reviewing the Law Enforcement Officer pay raise
initiative and the Veterans healthcare expansion measures. Georgia's enforcement officers are long overdue for a pay increase, as their current compensation is the lowest in the country. The increase would move Georgia from 50th in officer pay to 24th, respectively. It is only appropriate that we properly compensate those whom we have entrusted to protect us. As a Veteran, I also look forward to learning more about Governor Deal's healthcare expansion and program initiatives for our vets. Please click here to see the full proposal
Week Two- Budget Hearings
The only thing we are required to do by law is pass a balanced budget. Budget hearings began Tuesday, January 17th. For the remainder of the legislative session we will await as the Appropriations Committee in the House and Senate deliberate and make suggestions as to where state funds should be allocated. The budget is a living document that will change many times before final passage in the last days of session. There are only so many ways to "split a penny," so as you can imagine, budget issues can be contentious when you have 236 legislators fighting hard to bring home a piece of the budget pie. Like my colleagues, I will be working hard on your behalf to ensure our district receives necessary funding and assistance from the state level for future capital investments. I will update you throughout the remainder of the session on any budget news pertaining to our region of the state.