State Senator Jeff Mullis has released his weekly report and says that Georgia must continue to work on economic development in order to put people back to work and create jobs.  Mullis calls for keeping "conservative values" and thinking outside the box to form partnerships that would create jobs.  Senator Mullis’ full statement below: 

As we continue to work through the budget crisis in Georgia, one thing is for certain: We must concentrate on economic development in Georgia to get the thousands of Georgians back to work by creating jobs. Job creation is a key component to turning around this economy and moving Georgia forward as the Empire State of the South.

 

Improving this difficult economic environment is a paramount challenge to the General Assembly. We must maintain our conservative economic values and think outside the box to create jobs and partnerships that will cultivate economic growth throughout Georgia. Companies want to locate where taxes are low. Georgia has one of the lowest corporate income tax rates, ranking 42nd in the nation according to Georgia State University’s Fiscal Research Center. Georgia also ranks 35th in the nation on total per person tax burden, making jobs more attractive. By maintaining these low taxes, Georgia is attracting companies, growing jobs and turning around our economy.

 

Georgia is on the brink of substantial job growth and company investment. We are poised for an economic turnaround, which is why I continue to meet with potential partners and companies to bring jobs to the 53rd Senate District. Recently, I was honored to meet with the Hungarian Economic Development Delegation in the Senate Chamber to discuss opportunities for job creation in Georgia. They have a great respect and admiration for Georgia, are excited about potential partnerships and are looking for the most economically viable area to do business. I also had the privilege of having dinner with the German General Consulate, Dr. Lutz Gorgens, and the German Ambassador to the U.S. at the consulate’s home. We discussed the potential for future partnerships that will help create jobs in northwest Georgia and the entire state. The opportunity to showcase Northwest Georgia and explain that areas outside of the Atlanta-metro area are more economically viable for most companies was invaluable.

 

As former Chairman of the Economic Development Committee and current Chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, I assure you that there is a direct connection between transportation and the economy. New and uncongested roads, bridges and highways are a path to more businesses in more areas and increased economic production. As we work on the development of a statewide transportation plan, a main aspect to the plan is creating an environment of growth and prosperity that must include significant improvements to Georgia’s transportation infrastructure. Georgia’s leadership in high-speed rail development was recognized last year at the federal level. In September 2009, the U.S. Department of Transportation for recognized the importance of the Atlanta-Chattanooga High-Speed Maglev Project by awarding the project $14.2 Million in federal funds. I worked with U.S. Representative Zack Wamp of Tennessee to get Northwest Georgia and Southeast Tennessee the funds needed for this project that will make travel easier in this congested, fast-growing corridor and create economic opportunities.

 

Great progress has been made on proposed legislation that supports transportation and economic growth. Georgia’s rest areas and service to travelers along interstate highways will greatly improve if Georgia is allowed to establish partnerships with private sector companies and franchises. By partnering with the private sector, rest areas will provide better service to highway travelers and be a source for local economic growth. To further this effort, Senate Bill 305 urges the Georgia Department of Transportation to obtain a waiver from the Federal Highway Administration that would allow commercial operations in rest areas along the interstates in Georgia. The bill has been successfully passed by the Senate and the House Transportation Committee. I hope to see this come to a full vote on the House F-loor very soon and then to the governor’s desk for his signature.

 

Recently, I proposed legislation that will allow the Georgia Department of Transportation to enter into more construction contracts for buildings, bridges and approaches, rail corridors, and limited or controlled access projects. Current law authorizes GDOT to use the design-build procedure for contracting with no more than 15 percent of the total construction projects awarded in the previous fiscal year. Senate Resolution 822 will increase the allotted percentage of projects to 30 percent. We will double the amount of transportation construction projects and get them done more efficiently, growing jobs and improving Georgia’s infrastructure. The Senate Transportation Committee has favorably passed this Resolution and will soon come before the full Senate for a vote.

 

Major improvements to Georgia’s rail system and freight corridors will be made with the statewide transportation plan. We will mitigate congestion and get much-needed goods and services to areas outside Metro Atlanta. Savannah has the second largest port in the country. By connecting Savannah to more areas of Georgia without traveling through congested Atlanta, good and services can be delivered more effectively and efficiently, making significant economic contributions to local economies.

I am honored to serve and represent the 53rd Senate District in the State Senate and as the Senate Transportation Chairman. I am working diligently to move Georgia forward for the citizens of this great state with an improved plan of economic development and transportation. As I work for you this session, please continue to contact me with your thoughts, questions and concerns.

 

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Sen. Jeff Mullis serves as Chairman of the Transportation Committee. He represents the 53rd Senate district which includes Chattooga, Dade, and Walker counties and portions of Catoosa County. He can be reached at his office in Atlanta at 404.656.0057 or by email at jeff.mullis@senate.ga.gov.