The 2010 Legislative Session will be challenging. The budget will be the primary focus as more cuts are expected for the current budget year. In the past, I have been successful in getting funds for after school programs, computer labs, emergency services equipment,, and public buildings included in the budget. Declining revenues have already resulted in cuts for every department, programs and services. This year, my main focus for the district and the northwest Georgia area will be keeping adequate funding for education and public safety.
Our public education system, from pre-K through college, is an investment in a prosperous future. Our economy will improve with businesses expanding or new companies locating here. To fill positions, employers will first look for a well educated highly skilled worker. Already, many adults are returning to college to acquire new knowledge and skills in order to compete for limited jobs as companies seek to operate more efficiently and compete globally. Georgia Highlands and Northwestern Technical College have experienced tremendous growth for several years. Maintaining needed funding for them and our public schools is imperative. Protecting the HOPE Scholarship from further restrictions is important so that all students who desire a college education will have an incentive and assistance.
Citizens rightfully expect their state and local governments to insure safe communities. Several state departments such as the GBI, Corrections, State Patrol, Public Health, and Agriculture are partners with local governments to achieve this goal. Funding is necessary to provide skilled firemen when a house is burning, safe food in restaurants, law enforcement during a home burglary, and well trained first responders for heart attack victims.
Funding of many projects, programs, or facilities can be delayed until the economy recovers. Protecting and educating the citizens of the 11th District and all those across Georgia can not be delayed. I will work diligently with the other 179 members of the House of Representatives to make sure our homes and communities are safe and that citizens of all ages have education opportunities.