This was a busy week in the Legislature. We passed HB744, the Fiscal Year 2015 budget. The budget was set by a revenue estimate of $20.8 billion, a 4.6 percent increase from the Fiscal Year 2014 budget. Nearly 72 percent of the new revenue is budgeted for K-12 and higher education expenses. These funds, totaling $916 million, will help finance enrollment growth, increase opportunities for technical education, and distribute more dollars to local school systems in hopes of eliminating furlough days and raising salaries for teachers.
Another education related bill was HB697 which creates a Zell Miller grant scholar designation to cover 100 percent of tuition for those students who maintain a 3.5 GPA or above in Georgia’s technical colleges. Skilled labor, such as students can learn at technical colleges, are in high demand and pay good salaries. The bill is intended to close that skill's gap.
We also passed HB875, the Safe Carry Protection Act which is a comprehensive bill that expands Second Amendment rights for law-abiding citizens over the age of 21.
Finally, I'm pleased to say that a resolution I authored, HR1215, passed the House on Thursday. HR1215 calls for a Convention of States based on the limited topics of imposing fiscal restraints on the federal government, limiting the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and limit the terms of office for its officials and for members of Congress. Under Article V, a constitutional convention may be called if at least two-thirds, or 34 states, petition on the same subject.. Also on Thursday, Georgia became the 21st State to call for an article V convention for the purpose of proposing a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution by passing SR371. Saturday I participated in a panel discussion on this topic.
In addition to conducting legislative business last week, we also took some time to honor Jim Chavers, the last surviving member of the 4th Marine Division that fought in Iwo Jima. Considered one of the deadliest battles of World War II, the Invasion of Iwo Jima began on February 19, 1945 and lasted until March 26, 1945. Chavers was one of only 60 survivors from his company of 250. After his time in the Marines, Chavers served as a customs inspector for the U.S. Customs Service for 33 years. It was a privilege to meet such an outstanding Georgian as Jim Chavers. I am inspired by his dedication and commitment to this great country.
Here are the results of the most recent opinion poll taken in the vote4buzz app:
Should the State Constitution be amended to guarantee the right to a secret ballot vote in union representation elections? Yes: 33%, No: 50%, Undecided: 17%
Our poll this week concerns HB886: Should each local board of education and each charter school be required to hold at least two public hearings on their proposed budget?
To vote in our weekly polls you need to download the "vote4buzz" iPhone app. Search for "vote4buzz" in the App Store or click here.