As I have done for the last nine years during the Legislative Session, I will hold Saturday breakfast with constituents in the district to keep you up to date on what’s happening under the Gold Dome.
I will be at the Wagon Wheel Restaurant in Dahlonega on Saturday, Jan. 16, 23 and 30 at 8 a.m. I will be at Ryan’s Steakhouse (Hwy. 53 and Ga. 400) in Dawson County on Saturday, Feb. 6 at 8:30 a.m. As we get deeper into the Session, I will let you know the rest of the Saturday breakfast schedule.
There are many important issues to be tackled during the 2010 Session, but the most important will be the budgets — the FY 2010 Amended Budget and the FY 2011 General Budget. Revenues for the FY 2010 Budget appear to be on track for a $3 billion shortfall from what was originally estimated.
The good news is that Governor Perdue recognized the need for harsh budget cuts even before the fiscal year started and directed department heads to spend less than authorized by the budget. The bad news is that the House Appropriations Committee will be directed to cut another billion dollars via the FY 2010 Amended Budget. Speaking as a member of the House
Appropriations Committee (Education K-12), I can say that these will be the most challenging times we have faced in many years.
Just as we would do at home, so will the State of Georgia have to do, and that is “do more with less.” We will revisit every budget of every department. The cuts may be painful, but necessary. Everyone from the Governor, to the legislators, to the secretaries takes the mandatory unpaid furlough days.
Some of the secretaries make so little that I wish we did not have to furlough them.
Property taxes are still a major issue with constituents and legislators. A number of bills have been introduced to change how property is evaluated.
Some bills freeze values, some allow cost of living increases, and some would eliminate ad valorem taxes in favor of a revised sales tax, which would include a tax on certain services. I will know more when they come up for discussions.
Your preferences for how property is evaluated need to be known.
Other areas that will require a lot of study include healthcare, transportation and education. Appropriation increases have always been the primary reason for an amended budget — not this year. Increases for any department are probably not going to happen. Most departments will be happy to hold on to what they have.
A number of constituents have called to ask why I didn’t attend the Vice President’s presentation of the $33.5 million for the North Georgia Network fiber optic project. I was informed well in advance of the Vice President’s visit, but could not be present due to my involvement in electing our next Speaker of the House, David Ralston of Blue Ridge.
I was with Gov. Perdue on Tuesday when he visited North Georgia College & State University to present the $2.5 million fiber optic grant from the OneGeorgia Authority. I have been working with the Governor to get this grant for the last two years.
I will continue to monitor the network build out over the next few years. This award accompanied the $33.5 million federal grant we recently received from the Vice President for the NGN fiber optic project.
My thanks go to GaBio for selecting me as the 2009 House Legislator of the Year. GaBio is a non-profit membership-based organization that promotes the interests and growth of the life sciences industry. It represents nearly 300 pharmaceutical, biotech and medical device companies, universities, research institutes, medical centers, government groups and other business organizations involved in the development of products that improve the health and quality of life of people, animals and the environment.
As Chairman of the House Science and Technology Committee since 2005, I have been well positioned to lend support to the industry GaBio represents.
The 10 to 25 percent seed money the state has been able to direct to this industry encourages industry and business to invest the other 75 percent.
This industry has a $17 billion per year impact on the state’s economy and accounts for 62,000 jobs. The awards will be presented at the Annual Awards Dinner Jan. 21.
As we begin this new decade, I urge you to pray for the Nation, Georgia, Legislators, those you love and yourselves.
Working together we will overcome these challenging times. My prayers are for a happy, healthy and more prosperous New Year for you and your loved ones.
Rep. Amos Amerson can be reached at 689 N. Chestatee Street, Dahlonega, GA 30533; (706) 864-6589; e-mail: email@example.com. Or contact Gerald Lewy at (706) 344-7788.