My goal in everything I do is to move the State of Georgia forward so that everyone has a better life. The Georgia House of Representatives has made a real difference for families that will be felt for generations to come. I am excited to highlight a few key issues that we tackled during the 2018 Legislative Session; we adjourned late in the night on Thursday March 29.
Fully funded Quality Basic Education (QBE) for the first time ever
After more than a decade of cutbacks related to Quality Basic Education (QBE) in Georgia, Governor Deal amended his initial budget recommendation to include an additional $167 million for K – 12 education. This will be the first time since its inception that the State’s portion of the QBE formula will be fully funded. This bold investment will give local school systems the opportunity to provide the programs necessary to improve struggling schools and enhance student performance. Fully funding QBE provides a stronger foundation to lawmakers and stakeholders in education reform to continue to accommodate the needs of today’s students and 21st-century classrooms.
Funding allocated for Hall County Library System expansion
During this year’s session, I took the lead in working with the House Appropriations’ process to secure an additional $2,000,000 in funds from the state of Georgia (in the FY19 budget) to match the $2,000,000 in local funds (SPLOST and impact fees) that have been allocated to improve and expand Hall County’s central library in downtown Gainesville. By securing these additional funds, this will allow the library to greatly expand the scope of the project and meet the needs of the community at a much higher level. Some of the priorities for the project are to provide additional space and security to the youth services area, offer study and small conference room space, and to have a large dividable meeting room that will host library programming as well as community group meetings.
Comprehensive adoption law reform helps Georgia families
We enacted comprehensive adoption reform measures during this session to make it easier to adopt a child in Georgia. House Bill 159 will help children find permanent, stable, and loving families and embraces everyone who is willing to open their hearts and homes to a child in need. These reform measures, signed in to law by Governor Deal, will reduce adoption waiting times, allow birth mothers to be reimbursed for certain expenses during a private adoption, and makes out-of-state adoptions easier. HB 159 represents the first major update of Georgia’s adoptions laws in almost three decades. I am particularly proud of the bill’s author, Rep. Bert Reeves, as he worked tirelessly on behalf of families across our state who will now benefit from a more efficient and dependable process of adoption. I stood firmly with Rep. Reeves throughout the process and with every turn to help ensure this much-needed legislation passed.
Passage of the largest income tax reduction in Georgia history
One of the most important jobs we do at the Capitol is to act with fiscal responsibility so that the State of Georgia is a good steward of taxpayer dollars. House Bill 918, which includes the 2017 and 2018 Internal Revenue Code updates, passed the House and was signed into law by Governor Deal. This comprehensive tax cut legislation will save Georgians upwards of five billion dollars over the next five years and represents the largest income tax reduction in Georgia history. It will keep us competitive as we continue to attract new citizens to Georgia, helps us maintain our AAA bond rating, and helps with economic development and recruitment of quality job opportunities. Most importantly, this tax cut will enable working Georgians to keep more money in their pocket, and at the same time does not endanger the economic viability and stability of Georgia.
A balanced budget that does more with less
I’m pleased to report a win for Georgia’s taxpayers in the passage of a balanced FY19 state budget. The budget places great emphasis on helping Georgia families in all communities thrive. With solid conservative principles in place during the budgeting process, our budget is a strong testament to reducing governmental waste and finding effective ways to strategically invest dollars to impact lives today, tomorrow and forever. I’m proud to say that the State of Georgia is doing more with less of your tax dollars. This year’s budget proudly supports several measures, most notably investment in transportation, healthcare, education, agriculture and public safety. There is much to be proud of as you couple this with Georgia’s rainy-day fund balance of more than $2.5 billion and our AAA bond rating.
Named Number One Place to do Business…AGAIN!
For the fifth consecutive year, Site Selection magazine has named Georgia the number one state in which to do business. A thriving economy, fiscal responsibility, quality workforce, dynamic landscapes from the mountains to the beach, pro-business framework provided by the Georgia General Assembly, businesses of all shapes and sizes, and a culture of collaboration all serve to fuel the growth of Georgia’s diverse economy.