The 2010 session of your Georgia House and Senate kicked off on the morning of January 11. The annual 40 working day session is expected to last until the first week of April during which time we will write a budget for the next fiscal year as well as tend to other business.
The big news of the first week has been the election of Representative David Ralston, (R-Blue Ridge) as the new Speaker of the House of Representatives. Ralston, a former state senator, has served in the House for several years and was elected to the Speaker position in a bipartisan vote. He brings class, polish and common sense to the position and we all look forward to working with him to address the problems that face our state.
With revenue to the state still suffering due to the recession, we will work to fashion a budget for the remainder of this fiscal year (FY) ending June 30th and for the next FY beginning July 1. The General Assembly will be forced to cut an estimated $1.5 billion from the current FY2010 budget as we are constitutionally required to balance all of our budgets. We will match the current budget with state revenue collections since July 2009. To make matters worse, legislators are anticipating a budget recommendation for FY 2011 well below that of the last several years. That means lawmakers must work together to find the most efficient use of state dollars and make targeted cuts in government while maintaining critical services such as education, state health care and public safety. Once again, I pledge to you that I will not support any tax increases should that idea come to anyone here. It is impossible to tax us into prosperity.
In other areas, we hope to find a solution to many of the transportation issues we face. There is a proposal to allow the counties to consider a one cent special sales tax for road work that we may pass this year. However, the voters statewide would have to approve it as a constitutional amendment and then in each county before it could go into effect.
Gun rights expansion legislation is also being considered here as well. I believe law abiding citizens pose no threat to others when bearing properly licensed pistols and that gun ownership is a right guaranteed in the Bill of Rights of our US Constitution
As always, I thank you for the honor of representing you in the Georgia Senate.
Senator John Douglas, (R-Social Circle) is Chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans, Military and Homeland Security. He represents southeast Rockdale and all or part of four other counties. He can be reached at 404-656-0503, e-mail at email@example.com.