2008-11-12 / Community

Legislative update held in Colquitt

Rep. Gerald Greene and Senator John Bulloch

Senator John Bulloch Senator John Bulloch On October 30, 2008, Sen. John Bulloch and Rep. Gerald Greene were invited to participate in a Legislative Update to discuss current local and state concerns. Rep. Greene and Sen. Bulloch provided updates on water, schools, taxes, transportation and health; discussed the difficulties of the upcoming legislative session in January 2009; and explained the pros and cons of the amendments which were voted on November 4, 2008.

Local participants included representatives from health, education, government, and community. Approximately 35 persons were in attendance including Michael Bryant, field representative with Congressman Sanford Bishop's office.

Updates included the following: 1) Water: water commissions will be established in each region of the state. Dr. Howard Small has been nominated for our region. Water districts will develop a water plan for their districts and must coordinate water plan with neighboring districts. 2) Education: in 2009, education will be 56% of the state budget. Board of Regents is proposing a 6% cut - state asked for a 2% cut this fiscal year. The state had suspended the smaller classroom requirements. In 2002, the cost per student was $4162, and in 2009, cost per student is $5035. Due to 1.5 million new Georgia residents since 2000, the student body has grown significantly. Teachers Retirement System lost over $11 million in the last two weeks of the national financial crisis. 3) Taxes: the state may have a $1.6 billion shortfall. All departments, except education, are to cut 6% in their departments. If there is a $2.5 billion shortfall, there will be a 10% cut in the state budget. While 50% of state revenue comes from personal taxes, sales tax has decreased due to less spending. Homestead exemption is frozen, so this money will not be sent back to the counties. 4) Health: trauma centers need to be improved in our area. Health departments continue to lose funding; and the Department of Human Resources is being re-organized (Health departments are currently under DHR). 5) Transportation: preparation for a fuel crisis in the 90's had been unpopular and put on hold. Georgia is experiencing a fuel crisis; the legislature will address the issue in the upcoming session. Another important topic for both Rep. Greene and Sen. Bulloch was the possibility of changes in the legislative districts once the 2010 Census is completed. They see gains in representation in urban areas and losses in rural area, meaning more counties included within each of their districts.

State Representative Gerald Greene State Representative Gerald Greene Miller County Collaborative and Spring Creek Health Cooperative were proud to sponsor this community event and appreciate all those who attended.

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