By Casey Cagle
During this year’s 40-day session, the State Senate delivered real results for the people of Georgia in a way that should make every Georgian proud. Together, we balanced the budget, dramatically increased our investment in education, defended Georgia values, and began the process of providing better care for our state’s most vulnerable children.
Unlike the politicians in Washington, we managed to balance our budget without raising taxes while focusing our resources on the state’s most critical needs, like education. Specifically, this year we added over $300 million to our education budget in order to eliminate teacher furloughs, provide a full 180-day school year for every system in Georgia, and raise teacher salaries. We also continued our efforts on behalf of charter school systems and college and career academies to give local communities the flexibility they need to innovate and design an educational environment that meets the needs of their communities and each individual student. There is no greater investment we can make than providing each of our children with the educational opportunities they need to succeed in the 21st century global economy.
The Senate also passed bills that reform our foster care system by bringing private sector and faith-based partners to the table, as well as measures that provide insurance coverage of life-changing therapies and treatments for the 1 in 88 children diagnosed with autism. While these measures ultimately weren’t enacted into law, we remain committed to continuing the fight to ensure that our most defenseless and vulnerable are cared for.
This November, Georgia voters will have the chance to vote on an amendment to the Georgia Constitution that would prohibit future increases in the state income tax thanks to the passage of Senate Resolution 412. Like Georgia families do every day, the state should live within its means. That’s why I am so strongly opposed to tax increases and fully supportive of this effort to block future tax hikes by adding an amendment to our Constitution.
This year, the Georgia State Senate again proved itself as a deliberative body deserving of the trust the people of Georgia have placed in their elected legislators. Together, we made tremendous progress for the state and I look forward to continuing to build on our successes. Thanks to the efforts of my colleagues in the Senate, we ensured yet again that Georgia’s brightest days are always still to come.
Casey Cagle is Georgia’s lieutenant governor.