The 2013 General Assembly convened on Jan. 14. My new committee assignments are as follows: Retirement (xhairman), Health and Human Services (aecretary), Education and Youth, and Rules.
While I am disappointed that I am no longer Education and Youth Chairman (politics), I am the only two-year senator on Rules that is not part of leadership. All legislation must come through this committee after the first six days of session.
I intend to remain very involved in education. I am one of the Governor’s appointments to the Southern Regional Education Board’s Legislation Advisory Council, the best education organization I have found.
Locally the most important issue is our DeKalb County School fiasco. Our board members appeared before the State Board on Jan. 17 to plead why they think they should not be suspended. They are scheduled to reappear around Feb. 21. I want you to know that the problem is being worked on and I am hopeful it will be resolved to most people’s satisfaction.
Gov. Deal gave his State of the State address to the General Assembly and proposed a $19.8 billion budget (basically flat). Most departments except K-12 education receive cuts. The budget is predicated on the General Assembly continuing the “bed tax”/provider fee in order to fill a $700 million Medicaid hole and the Senate passed its version on Jan. 18.
Some specific areas of funding include $13 million for pre-kindergarten to provide for 180 days; about $25 million in bonds for reservoirs; about $50 million in bonds to deepen the Savannah harbor – we have now contributed almost $250 million to get the feds funding the balance of the project; $12 million in bonds for College Football Hall of Fame; and $6 million additional Hope funding for high demand job opportunities. Enrollment growth in K-12 plus increased equalization funding for poorer systems will be in excess of $300 million.
This week we are out of session for budget hearings. As always your thoughts and questions are welcome.
Senator Fran Millar