Governor Deal Delivers State of the State Address
Governor Nathan Deal on Wednesday delivered his sixth State of the State address to a joint session of the Georgia Legislature. The governor outlined his 2016 legislative agenda focusing on areas such as education, pay raises for teachers and state employees and job growth.
Deal praised the cutting of taxes and removing regulatory burdens on businesses, which he credited with cutting the state’s unemployment rate in half. By removing sales tax on energy for manufacturing, he said, has led to over 22,000 new manufacturing jobs. These jobs represent over $900 million in added wages.
Governor Deal called for teachers and state employees to get a 3 percent pay raise and asked lawmakers to delay education reform until next year. “My budget next year will include funding to implement my recommendations and those of the Education Reform Commission. This will provide ample time to vet the full report. It is important that we get this right. It is also important that in the meantime, the debate be conducted in good faith and that your recommendations be based on facts and not rhetoric” said Deal.
Deal’s proposed budget provides funds to implement a new compensation model for Pre-K programs in order to retain lead teachers, increase assistant teacher salaries and maintain classroom quality. The pre-K budget recommendation of over $358 million, which includes $26.2 million for salary increases and an additional $7.9 million for a 3 percent merit pay increase.
Other recommendations include more than $58.3 million to cover the cost of Move on When Ready, a new dual enrollment program that allows high school students to attend postsecondary institutions at no cost to them or their parents.
Governor’s Budget Recommendations
Governor Nathan Deal released this week his budget recommendations to the General Assembly for the FY 2016 amended and FY 2017 budget. The proposed budgets would bolster resources for education, transportation, public safety, health care, economic development and efficiency in government.
The Governor’s budget recommendation of interest to the University System of Georgia (USG) and Georgia State University included $101 million for merit based pay adjustments and new USG formula funds. These funds are critical in meeting enrollment demands, providing for maintenance of new facilities and funding strategic initiatives. Also included was $60 million in bonds for major repairs and renovation. The GSU Government Affairs team will seek $5.2 million in funds during the budget process for the construction of Alpharetta Labs and Student Learning Center at Perimeter College, $5 million for the demolition of Kell Hall/Library Plaza and $4.2 million for the construction of Library North Entrance Renovation.
Deal Announces Transportation Investments
Governor Deal, joined by legislators and Georgia Department of Transportation representatives, released this week a comprehensive infrastructure maintenance plan made possible through the Transportation Funding Act of 2015. The announcement included an 18-month project list, representing a $2.2 billion investment, and a 10-year list, representing a $10 billion investment. The
Courtland Bridge project is slated to start in July of 2017, just shy of the 18-month plan that was released.
For the short term, the DOT will use the new money to resurface 2,500 miles of road and replace 110 structurally deficient bridges. The long-range plan calls for express lanes on I-285 and Ga. 400, revamped interchanges at I-285 and I-20, and additional lanes on I-85 and I-16.
Special Election Results
Jodi Lott (R-Evans), will represent House District 122, replacing Rep. Ben Harbin who resigned to take another job. Jodi is a registered nurse and former county commissioner. District 122 represents part of Columbia County.
Larry Walker III (R-Perry), will represent Senate District 20, replacing Sen. Ross Tolleson who resigned for health reasons. Larry is an insurance agent in Houston County. District 20 represents Bleckley, Laurens and Pulaski counties and a portion of Houston County.
JaNice Van Ness (R-Conyers), will represent Senate District 43, replacing Sen. Ronald Ramsey who resigned after being appointed Judge of Traffic Division of DeKalb State Court by Governor Nathan Deal. JaNice is an educator and business owner. District 43 represents portions of DeKalb, Rockdale and Newton counties.
A special election will be held January 19 for House District 58 to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Rep. Simone Bell. Bell resigned to take another job. District 58 represents portions of DeKalb and Fulton counties.
December Revenues Increase
Revenue collections for the month of December totaled $2.04 billion, an increase $67.7 million or 3.6 percent compared to the revenue collected in December 2014. Year-to-date, net tax revenue collections totaled $10.44 billion for an increase of $834.2 million, or 8.7 percent compared to the same point last year.
The 40-day session marks the second year of the biennial with carry over legislation from the 2015 session available for passage.
HB 745, sponsored by Rep. Earl Ehrhart (R-Powder Springs), allows the University System of Georgia and the Technical College System of Georgia to write off small amounts due to the state and carry forward certain fees and revenue through July 1, 2021. This mechanism allows the USG to better manage their operational budget to meet the critical needs on campus. Currently, authorization is set to sunset on June 30, 2016. Assigned to the House Committee on Budget and Fiscal Affairs Oversight.
HB 722, sponsored by Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon), would allow the state to issue up to six licenses for medical cannabis cultivators in Georgia. People who have any one of 17 diagnosis, including post-dramatic stress disorder, intractable pain, HIV and AIDS would be eligible for Georgia made cannabis liquids or pills. The bill has been assigned to the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee.
HB 704, sponsored by Rep. John Pezold (R-Fortson), would establish a pilot program for the purposes of studying the growth, cultivation or marketing of industrial hemp. Hemp is considered to be the cannabis plant with 0.3% or less THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). A grower who would cultivate industrial hemp would be required to obtain a license from the Department of Agriculture. It would further permit an institution of higher education to grow or cultivate industrial hemp for purposes of research conducted under an agricultural pilot program approved by the Department. Assigned to the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee
SB 264, sponsored by Sen. Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta), would legalize the regulation of horse racing and pari-mutuel wagering and create The Division of Horse Racing of the Georgia Lottery Corporation. Three percent of proceeds shall be paid by the racetrack to the Georgia Lottery Corporation which shall use such funds for HOPE Scholarships and need based scholarships. One-tenth of 1 percent shall be allocated by the division to the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine to be used solely for the promotion of growth of the equine racing and breeding industries in the State of Georgia. Assigned to the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee.
HB 701, sponsored by Rep. David Casas (R-Lilburn), would require that each local board of education prescribe mandatory instruction concerning alcohol and other drug use and provide a minimum of 12 hours of alcohol and drug use prevention curricula every year in every grade from grade 3 through grade 12. Assigned to the House Education Committee.
HB 731, sponsored by Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver (D-Decatur), would ban certain assault weapons, large capacity magazines, armor-piercing bullets, and incendiary .50 caliber bullets. This would ban the distribution and importation of assault weapons into Georgia, even if they are legal in other states. Lawful owners of assault weapons would include police officers and members of the armed forces. Any person possessing a machine gun in a crime of violence would be guilty of a felony. Assigned to the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee.
SB 267, sponsored by Sen. Tommie Williams (R-Lyons), reduces the application fee for weapons carry and renewal licenses from $30 to $15 for people 65 years or older. Assigned to the Senate Judiciary Non-Civil Committee.
GSU Students Serve as Interns
During the 2016 session, Georgia State is fortunate to have 11 students serving as interns for the Georgia General Assembly as part of the Georgia Legislative Internship Program (GLIP) and for individual representatives.
Assigned to various House and Senate committees, interns are given the opportunity to learn the legislative and policy process firsthand from inside the Gold Dome. In addition to gaining an inside view of the legislative process and how constituents are served, interns acquire marketable skills and professional work experience prior to graduation. After successful completion of the program, students receive 9 hours of course credit.
Dr. Dan Franklin Professor of Political Science at Georgia State University is the Director of GLIP. The 2016 Georgia State University legislative interns are Isiah Ellison, Edward Yoon, Samuel Hanks, Shivani Patel, Kaededra Caldwell, Solidad Nicolson, Osamagbe Osagie, Joshua Roye, Jordan Hall, Octavious Andrews and Elijah Anderson. GSU alum Rashaad Richardson and GSU student Jovan Paige are also working in the House Clerk’s Office.
Information on legislative activities including bills and resolutions as well as webcast of daily sessions in both Chambers and committee meeting are available via the General Assembly website at ** www.legis.ga.gov (http://www.legis.ga.gov)
USG Budget Presentation: January 19, 1:00 pm – 1:45 pm
Day 6: The House and Senate will convene at 10:00 am on
Wednesday, January 20.
Georgia State University Day at the Capitol: February 3, 8:00 am – 11:00 am
Government & Community Affairs Team
Tom Lewis, Senior Advisor to the President
Julie Kerlin, Director of Government & Community Affairs
Jason Thomas, Assistant Director of Government & Community Affairs
Debbie Jones, Associate to the Director
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