Session 2018: Week 1
Session 2018: Week 1
The first day of the 2018 154th General Assembly was last week, January 8, 2018. During this week’s session, Governor Nathan Deal gave his annual and final State of the State Address, as he will be retiring next year. Here are some highlights from Gov. Deal’s address:
Film, Education, Criminal Justice, and the 2018/2019 Fiscal Budget
Governor Deal’s address emphasized the exceptional growth the state of Georgia has seen since his election in 2011, and also stressed the importance of planting seeds of inspiration for our future generations to continue to improve our state. During his seven years as Georgia’s governor, Mr. Deal has achieved a significant drop in Georgia’s unemployment rate from 10.4 percent to 4.3 percent, which is the lowest it has been in over 10 years; the creation of more than 675,000 private sector jobs; the maintenance of our state’s AAA bond rating and addition to our Rainy Day Fund; Georgia’s recognition as the No. 1 state in which to do business for five consecutive years; the booming film and television industry; and investments in education and criminal justice reform.
The Georgia film industry has experienced a $9.5 billion economic impact in the past decade, an addition of 200 new companies to Georgia to support film and television production, the accountability of 92,000 jobs across our state, and an increase in student interest of the courses at the Georgia Film Academy. This industry has become a major contributor to Georgia’s economic growth and continues to thrive because of programs like the ones offered at the Georgia Film Academy. By inspiring these students to pursue their creative dreams, film and production will continue to develop.
During Gov. Deal’s time of service, he has also increased state spending on education by $3.6 billion for a total of $14 billion in state education expenditures. He and his wife truly have a passion for education, and Gov. Deal aimed his focus at creating the HOPE Career Grant program, a marketing campaign to highlight Georgia’s technical colleges for post-secondary education growth. By creating funds, he also instituted the Sandra Dunagan Deal Center for Early Language and Literacy at Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville. This center is named after his wife, First Lady Sandra Deal, who is devoted to education, literacy, and the future of our children.
Criminal justice reform efforts have remained a priority for Gov. Deal since taking office, and he is proud of the progress he has made. Now, the state of Georgia has 149 state-funded accountability court programs that sentence alternatives to nonviolent offenders, and each of Georgia’s 49 judicial circuits operates at least one sort of accountability court.
Gov. Deal had the following suggestions for the 2018 state budget: an allocation of $102 million for K-12 enrollment growth, $10.7 million for growth in Georgia’s Dual Enrollment program, $43.6 million for the Indigent Care Trust Fund and Medicaid, $15.1 million for child welfare services to care for children in state custody, $2.4 million for autism services for children under the age of 21, $17.6 million for Forestland Protection Act grants and $10 million for beach nourishment projects and $25.2 million for airport runway extension projects. For the 2019 state budget, Gov. Deal recommended the following: $361.7 million for the Teachers Retirement System, $127 million for K-12 education, $30 million to assist low-wealth school systems, $28.8 million for child welfare services to fund out-of-home care growth and foster care per diem increases, $22.9 million to implement recommendations from the Commission on Children’s Mental Health, $5 million for accountability courts to implement new courts and expand existing courts, and $31 million for transportation and $100 million to repair roads and bridges in Georgia. As we continue with our legislative session, Gov. Deal’s recommendations will be evaluated, analyzed, and modified.
Our Adjournment Resolution
During this session, we also developed a tentative legislative calendar for the next few weeks of our term. This calendar is called an adjournment resolution, and it acts as a comparative balance for my colleagues and I as we are all only part-time lawmakers. We value the time we have to discuss and pass important legislation for the citizens of Georgia, and this calendar helps us make the most of our time together.
National Championship Celebration
We also set aside some time to celebrate the College Football Playoff National Championship, which was held for the first time in Georgia’s history at our newly opened Mercedes-Benz Stadium. During our celebration, we adopted House Resolution 867, which recognizes Dan Corso and commends the Atlanta Football Host Committee for organizing this great event for our state. Although our state’s flagship university did not come out as the victor, this was a special day for our session.
Now that the legislative session has officially begun, my House colleagues and I will be working diligently to pass meaningful legislation on behalf of all Georgians. I hope that my session updates will help you to stay informed on legislative matters that impact our community and state as a whole. The House website, www.house.ga.gov, has several tools that might be useful to you throughout the legislative session: a live stream of House proceedings, live and archived committee meeting videos and detailed information on all legislation we are considering in the General Assembly.
If you ever find yourself in Atlanta during session, I encourage you to visit me at my Capitol office, and please do not hesitate to call or email me if you have any questions or concerns regarding any current or upcoming legislation. My Capitol office is located at 228-A State Capitol Atlanta, GA 30334, my office phone number is 404-656-5099, and I can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for allowing me to serve as your representative.
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