Budget Hearings Underway
Governor Brian Kemp, in his first address to the joint Appropriations Committee, has proposed a spending plan of $27.5 billion for fiscal year 2020, a $1.5 billion increase over the current state budget. Kemp’s address focused mainly on education. “For teachers and students to succeed in the classroom, they need to feel secure in their learning environment,” Kemp said Wednesday. In addition to the $3,000 salary increases for Georgia’s certified teachers, the first-year governor has proposed bulking up the state’s spending on school security, proposing $69 million for one-time $30,000 grants for every public school and $8.4 million to enable counselors in high schools to focus on struggling students.
Chancellor Steve Wrigley, along with Interim Executive Vice Chancellor for Strategy and Fiscal Affairs Tracey Cook presented the USG budget recommendations to the House and Senate Joint Appropriations Committee. Chancellor Wrigley emphasized the top priorities for the USG are to ensure more Georgians enter the workforce with a college credential, make college more affordable and accessible to Georgians and find more opportunities to be efficient and control costs. The Chancellor asked members to support the Governor’s recommendation of a 2% merit pay raise for USG employees.The Governor’s bond package totals $1.16 billion for the state, of which $209 million is recommended for the University System.
In his annual address to the General Assembly, state economist and director of the Fiscal Research Center at Georgia State University, Dr. Kenneth Heaghney told lawmakers the economic outlook is still quite positive, although gradually slowing. “In terms of job growth, it’s still kind of a story of Atlanta, Gainesville, mostly north Georgia growing at pretty good rates and a lot of the smaller metro areas – and particularly a lot of the South Georgia areas – are still fairly weak,” Heaghney said.
Higher Education Committee Chairs Named
Rep. Chuck Martin (R-Alpharetta), replaces Rep. Rick Jasperse (R-Jasper), as the Chairman of the House Higher Education Committee. Rep. Martin is former Chairman of the House Budget and Fiscal Affairs Oversight Committee.
Rep. David Knight (R-Griffin), replaces Rep. Earl Ehrhart (R-Marietta), who retired, as Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Higher Education. Rep. Knight is former Chairman of the House Game, Fish and Parks Committee.
Sen. Lindsey Tippins (R-Marietta), replaces Sen. Frank Ginn (R-Danielsville), as Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Higher Education. It was announced last week that Sen. Tippins would also chair the Senate Higher Education Committee.
HB 22, sponsored by Rep. Penny Houston (R-Nashville), would authorize rural telephone cooperatives to furnish broadband services either directly or indirectly through an agreement or through a broadband affiliate. Assigned to the House Economic Development and Tourism Committee.
HB 23, sponsored by Rep. Penny Houston (R-Nashville), would allow Electric Membership Corporations (EMCs) to deploy broadband services throughout Georgia. Assigned to the House Economic Development and Tourism Committee.
HB 7, sponsored by Rep. Jesse Petrea (R-Savannah), creates an income tax exemption for income received as retirement benefits from military service. Assigned to the House Ways and Means Committee.
HB 25, sponsored by Rep. Dave Belton (R-Buckhead), would provide military service members civil relief concerning certain contractual obligations due to circumstances of active duty. Assigned to the House Judiciary Committee.
HR 38, sponsored by Rep. Dar’shun Kendrick (D-Lithonia), would create the House Study Committee on Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Fields. Assigned to the House Special Rules Committee.
SB 21, sponsored by Sen. Donzella James (D-Atlanta), would require each local board of education to prescribe mandatory instruction concerning cybersecurity every year in every grade from kindergarten through grade 12. The bill also provides for required elements of such cybersecurity education and calls for implementation by July 1, 2020. Assigned to the Senate Education and Youth Committee.
Intern Spotlight: Stephanie Gomez
Political Science major, Stephanie Gomez wanted to apply everything she learned in the classroom into a real-life work experience. Therefore, she decided to join the Georgia Legislative Internship Program (GLIP) where she can meet new people and gain a better insight on how our government operates.
Assigned to the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Environment, Ms. Gomez’ responsibilities include answering phones, handling constituent issues, tracking legislation, assisting in committee meetings, and giving Capitol tours.
Stephanie’s extracurricular involvement at Georgia State University includes being a member of the Pre-Law Club and the Red Cross Club. Off campus, she is a volunteer at East Atlanta Kids, a non-profit youth mentor organization. Ms. Gomez also enjoys kickboxing and yoga. After she graduates from GSU, Stephanie plans to attend law school and work for a non-profit organization that primarily deals with humanitarian work.
Ms. Gomez’ favorite quote is “I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination,” by Jimmy Dean. Her favorite book is “Night” by Elie Wiesel.
Information on legislative activities including bills and resolutions as well as a webcast of daily sessions in both Chambers and committee meetings are available via the General Assembly website at ** www.legis.ga.gov (http://www.legis.ga.gov)
Day 5: The House and Senate will convene at 10:00 am on Monday, January 28.
GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS TEAM
Tom Lewis, Senior Advisor to the President
Julie Kerlin, Senior Director of Government & Community Affairs
Michael Parkerson, Director of Government & Community Affairs
Jason Thomas, Assistant Director for State Relations
Clelia Keen, Assistant Director for Community Affairs
Debbie Jones, Associate to the Director
Georgia State University
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Atlanta, Georgia 30302
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Visit Georgia State University’s Office of Government and Community Affairs:
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