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Economy and budget in the second week
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Your Georgia House and Senate completed Day 8 of 40 legislative days on January 28 and will convene again on Monday, February 1. The four legislative days we completed this week saw a first in Georgia history, Senators and Representatives leading the way for state employees on furloughs and a continuing effort to ensure taxes levied on our citizens are fair and equitable.

For the first time in the history of Georgia, the Senate invited the Speaker of the Georgia House to be honored and speak in the Senate. Speaker David Ralston, (R-Blue Ridge), a former Georgia State Senator talked about unity of effort, working to lessen economic problems facing our state, (many caused by destructive Washington policies), finding jobs for out of work Georgians and doing the business the people of this state send us to Atlanta to do. We were also joined by many former Senators to celebrate his visit, including our own former Senator A. C. (Bob) Guhl and his wife Shirley, who represented parts of Newton and all of Walton County for many years.

Furloughs for state employees continues to be an issue we are dealing with. Teachers and other state employees are being directed to take three days without pay for the remaining months of Fiscal Year 2010. That will result in a total of six furlough days for the entire FY10 for those workers. House and Senate members this week agreed to six more days, one per month for the remainder of FY10 bringing us to a total of 11 days since August 2009. It is very important that we in the legislature take more days without pay than other employees in order to set the example. I am happy that we can make this happen.

Property taxes continue to be a concern of the General Assembly. Home values in Georgia have fallen significantly in the last two years. Unfortunately, in some cases, re-assessments have not kept pace reflecting the change in value. You could be paying too much in property tax because the tax value of your home may not reflect true market value as it should.

Georgia law allows every property owner to file a "Taxpayer Return of Real Property". The act of filing this return should result in your property being re-assessed and valued at Fair Market Value. It will also trigger a notice of assessment which guarantees your right to an appeal. Without this notice of assessment you have no right to appeal. I recommend you check into this with your local county tax office if you feel your property value for tax purposes is too high.

It is a great honor to represent the people of the 17th Senate District in your Senate. Please call on me at any time that I may be of service.

Senator John Douglas, (R-Social Circle) represents southeast Rockdale and all or part of four other counties. He can be reached at 404-656-0503, e-mail at