State Senate leads on Georgia’s big issues

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.

2 comments Add your comment

DeborahinAthens

March 23rd, 2014
8:53 am

What’s sad is that he believes his own spin….(sigh)

Gerald

March 22nd, 2014
6:53 pm

I respectfully disagree with several of these points.

1. “Unlike the politicians in Washington, we managed to balance our budget without raising taxes”

Georgia is able to do this because it receives more money from the federal government than it contributes. Without the federal defense, education, agriculture, health care, senior citizens etc. benefits etc. Georgia would absolutely have to raise taxes to balance its budget.

2. “the State Senate delivered real results for the people of Georgia in a way that should make every Georgian proud”

The state did absolutely nothing on what is truly the biggest issue, which is infrastructure, both transportation and energy. For all the talk about education, for the most part with the exception of a few trouble spots our schools are fine, or at the very least are a reflection of the children in them (or more accurately the parents of those children). But metro Atlanta’s transportation infrastructure was built to support 1/3 as many people. The transportation infrastructure elsewhere in the state is woefully inadequate, completely incapable of facilitating or spurring economic development. State leaders speak of deepening the Savannah port but ignore the need for added rail capacity to carry the freight. Ideas such as a rail network connecting Georgia’s cities (i.e. Atlanta, Macon, Columbus, Albany, Valdosta, Savannah, Augusta) never gets proposed even though similar projects are underway in other states that we are competing with for jobs. Hartsfield remains Georgia’s sole significant airport for both passengers and freight. The T-SPLOST measure that would have helped Georgia address at least some of its deficient infrastructure was defeated 2 years ago, and no alternative has been proposed since.

As for energy, the only thing that has been done is to write a blank check to Georgia Power for a nuclear reactor that will take many years to build. Nothing to improve the grid or position Georgia to innovate and leverage solar, wind, biofuels or natural gas was proposed despite the fact that we have two leading research universities in Georgia Tech and UGA to exploit on for ideas, while other states are years ahead and Georgia will likely wind up having to buy what other states invent or produce in the near future.

3. Speaking of education, Georgia continues to take steps that are incremental at best. Georgia has not done nearly as much to expand charter schools and school choice in general as many other areas, including liberal Democratic ones like New York City, New Orleans and Washington D.C. Georgia refuses to promote magnet and other achievement-based schools so that our best and brightest can get the competitive, rigorous environments that top students in states elsewhere in the union receive, and Georgia has done very little to bring vocational/career education opportunities to the vast majority of students that are not college material beyond the occasional charter school acting on its own to partner with a vocational school.

4. While capping the state income tax is a great victory for those inclined to fiscal conservatism, it is far short of a full-fledged reform of Georgia’s long-antiquated and extremely complex tax code. While doing so in a way that is favorable to existing and future Georgia businesses but restraining the urge to make overly regressive changes is difficult, doing difficult things is exactly what leaders are supposed to do.

Add it all up and ever since Georgia shifted from Democratic to Republican rule 12 years ago, the state has been at a virtual standstill. The GOP leadership refuses to do anything that would anger its anti-tax, anti-spending base on one hand, but does not pursue anything legitimately conservative for fear of inflaming the business community on the other (also a great many of the purported Republicans are actually Democrats who switched parties and have no conservative convictions or intellectual foundations). It merely treads water and tries to run out the clock until the next election. Meanwhile, even Republican-led states like Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, Texas, Florida, Louisiana and North Carolina are enacting bold measures right and left: some socially conservative, some fiscally conservative, plus some measures in education, energy and transportation that required taxes and spending but are needed in any state that is going to compete economically in a global economy.

Georgia’s Republican leadership is thoroughly inadequate. If replacing that Republican leadership at this time is not an option – particularly since the alternative is an inexperienced crop of Democrats whose primary qualifications appear to be their last names – then the state’s voters would do well to at the very least consider electing a different crop of Republicans. David Pennington is too conservative for my personal taste and as a result would oppose addressing much of the education and infrastructure issues that this state needs because it would require raising and spending revenue, but at the very least he is not just another longtime “Democrat turned Republican” insider so perhaps he should nonetheless be given a shot. It is not like he would perform any worse.