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Posted: March 26, 2017 5:00 a.m.

Belton: A little about Georgia's new budget

The House and Senate passed a joint budget in the quickest amount of time in recent history, totaling $24. billion, a small 5.3 percent increase from last year. Of the new revenue, $775 million will go to education, $186 to transportation, $128 million to public safety and $39 million to economic development. I’m very grateful my efforts to add dollars to military and rural communities were successful, as well as to K12 education.  

Of interest to Newton County Board of Education was Senate Resolution 95. If approved by the voters by a state-wide referendum, any ELOST monies that are split between a county BOE and a city BOE (like Newton County and Social Circle City schools) would be divided by student enrollment count instead of the way they are decided now. This will help Newton County BOE very much if it is enacted.

Continuing my work for the military, I visited the VECTR (Veterans Education Career Transition Resource) Center in Warner-Robins this week. We created the VECTR center through a collaboration between the state of Georgia and the Technical College System of Georgia and the University System of Georgia to serve as an academic and workforce gateway for veterans and their families all across the state. A beautiful new 32,000-square-feet facility, it exudes a welcoming warmth to the veterans and their families who utilize their many services.

Envisioned as a “One-Stop-Shop” VECTR is a single point where military, veterans and their family receive academic coaching, benefits counseling and resources to meet the needs of our military by the Georgia Department of Veteran Services, the Georgia Department of Labor, the national Veterans Administration, and the United Way. They also provide workforce training for Commercial Truck Driving, CISCO Network Specialists, Welding, Air Conditioning System Maintenance Technicians and will soon add Elementary Education and Industrial Systems as well.

We passed a Senate Bill that sets up a Women’s Veteran’s Office inside the Department of Veterans Affairs. I’m also happy to report my School Choice Bill for children living on a military base passed both the House and the Senate. As military children move 6-9 times during their K12 education, and 40 percent of soldiers report they would leave the military instead of moving to a duty station that has poor schools, I believe this bill is the number one thing we can do to help our military-friendly profile for the coming round of base closures (BRAC). Despite the increase to the federal budget, Congressmen and Senators from both sides of the aisle are continuing to say that BRAC is coming…sooner rather than later. It’s important that Georgia is prepared.   

I hope you will continue to pray for me as I serve you under the Golden Dome. You can contact me at 706-372-4114 or davebelton112@gmail.com.

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