Our fifth week of business under the Gold Dome came to an end on Friday and represented a week where we were squarely focused on the budget. This week, the Senate did not convene for any legislative days and, instead, held a series of Appropriations subcommittee meetings in order to get a clearer picture of what Georgia’s Amended 2020 Fiscal Year and General 2021 Fiscal Year budgets will need to include.
Tuesday, I had the opportunity to serve as the Chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation. In this hearing, we heard from representatives from each state agency that has a hand in Georgia’s transportation infrastructure including the Georgia Department of Transportation, the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, the Georgia Department of Driver Services, and others. Specifically, these hearings highlighted the important role our roads, bridges and highways play in attracting economic development opportunities to our state. Total travel on Georgia’s roads increased by 1.9% during 2019 and it shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. As a growing state, we need to plan out our infrastructure to meet the needs of our increasing population and increased volume of traffic on our roads. These hearings gave me confidence that our state is in good hands and is well prepared to deal with these, and any other future transportation challenges our state will face in the future.
One of our priorities each year is to bring enhanced broadband internet coverage to every corner of our state. In particular, we have been looking at ways our localities can partner with the federal government to apply for grant funding to build rural broadband infrastructure. This week, many of these efforts paid of and it was announced that Gilmer County would receive $4.4 million from the United States Department of Agriculture for rural broadband initiatives. This announcement, part of USDA’s ReConnect Program, will help thousands of households in North Georgia access quality, high-speed broadband internet. I look forward to working with our partners at the federal level and my colleagues in the General Assembly to continue to find new and innovative ways we can bring internet access to Georgians, particularly those in rural parts of the state.
The Senate will be back in session on Tuesday, February 18, where we will resume our normal routine of honoring special guests and passing legislation. In the meantime, we will continue to serve and represent your interests here at the state Capitol. If I can ever do anything to assist you, please do not hesitate to reach out to me or my office. I look forward to continuing to serve District 51 and the great state of Georgia.
Sen. Steve Gooch serves as Majority Whip of the Senate Majority Caucus. He represents the 51st Senate District, which includes Dawson, Fannin, Gilmer, Lumpkin, Union and White counties, and portions of Forsyth and Pickens counties. He may be reached at 404.656.9221 or via email at email@example.com.