Last week the House and Senate appropriations committees began the arduous process of reviewing the governor's budget recommendations and turning them into the actual legislation that will ultimately guide all state spending.
Gov. Nathan Deal started the process Jan. 22 and was then followed by the leaders of our state agencies, each of whom explained their agency's budget and answered questions from House and Senate members.
As many of you know, I am a strong advocate of our state's technical schools.
The numbers tell us they are the best value for the dollars spent on education in our state. I have personally been a supporter of our local school, Lanier Technical College, and currently serve as their foundation chair.
I believe that this is a way we can give students a "hand up" not just a "hand out."
A technical education teaches students a trade that will allow them to support themselves and their families for a lifetime.
To support our state's higher education investments, the governor chose to designate specific funding to increase HOPE awards, and to establish a new HOPE grant program: the Strategic Industries Workforce Development Grant.
This grant will provide additional financial assistance above what is covered by the traditional HOPE Grant for students in our Technical College System pursuing a higher-demand certificate or diploma program.
I applaud the governor for his work to strengthen our technical college system and to pave the way for many more of our residents to receive this valuable education.
Despite a continued need for additional budget cuts, there is good news to be reported about the state of our economy. Our per capita spending of government money is 17 percent less than it was one decade ago, and we currently have 9,000 fewer state employees than we did five years ago.
We have continually increased the Rainy Day Fund to the current total of $378 million. Georgia continues to make steady progress as we emerge from the economic difficulties of the last several years.
Since all fiscal bills are required to originate in the House of Representatives, the House Appropriations subcommittees will delve even further into the governor's budget proposals.
Once this process is completed the entire House Appropriations Committee will vote on the budget, then it will go to the Rules Committee and then it will be placed on the House calendar.
The budget will then come to the House floor, where every member of the House will have the opportunity to voice their opinions on how the state is spending your tax dollars.
We will then vote to approve or to reject the state budget. Once it passes the House it will then go to the Senate where the same process is followed.
Prior to the conclusion of the legislative session the budget must be approved by both chambers and then ultimately signed by the governor to become law.
The process that the budget follows from being proposed by the governor until it is finally signed into law is a long and difficult one. However, this is the most important work that the General Assembly undertakes each year.
I encourage you to follow this process and to contact me with your thoughts and suggestions.
I am proud to be a part of this important work, and I am honored that you have allowed me to represent each of you at the state Capitol. I am here to serve you and encourage you to contact me anytime I can be of service.
Rep. Kevin Tanner can be reached at the capitol at (404) 656-0152, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or on my cell phone at (678) 776-5059. Tanner serves as the State Representative for the 9th State House District. He represents Lumpkin, most of Dawson and parts of Forsyth counties. He serves on the Natural Resources and Environment, Education and the Intragovernmental Coordination Committees in the House.