Senator Tolleson Updates from the Capitol | Families
This week remained busy at the Capitol as the Senate accomplished an additional four legislative days and continued to focus on the 2013 amended budget. It was also an important week for recognizing several groups that contribute to the conservation and betterment of our environment.
The budget is constitutionally mandated to begin in the House of Representatives and on February 8, the House voted to approve the amended $19.3 billion state budget for the remainder of fiscal year 2013, which ends June 30. Also known as the supplemental budget, the plan includes no new programs but would add $245 million in needed Medicaid funding and $172 million to local school systems to address costs associated with enrollment growth in Georgia’s K-12 public schools. The Senate has now taken up the budget and will analyze every detail to assure our money is being spent responsibly.
Georgia’s forefathers paved the road for fiscal responsibility when they passed the balanced budget amendment stating Georgia can only spend the money we have made or saved. Georgia, unlike the federal government, passed this amendment to constitutionally protect future generations of Americans from excessive debt. Today, 49 states have balanced budget requirements, most of which are written into their constitutions. Our nation’s debt recently passed $14 trillion, having more than doubled in less than a decade. The 2008 $700 billion bailout and the $787 billion stimulus bill have added amounts to our obligations with no end in sight. This is not the financial future our children need to inherit and maybe it is time for our federal government to take an example from the 49 states that responsibly practice some form of a balanced budget.
Tuesday, the Senate passed a resolution to honor the men and women of the Georgia Farm Bureau Federation (GFB). President Vincent “Zippy” Duvall, along with other members, including many from District 20, made the trip from Macon to accept the resolution which thanked them for serving as leaders within the agriculture field. In another event supporting our environment, Governor Deal signed a proclamation declaring Thursday, February 14th, as Arbor Day in Georgia. Arbor Day is set aside to educate people on public awareness of the importance of trees and the myriad of benefits they provide; such as helping clean the air and water, beautifying neighborhoods, providing homes for wildlife, conserving energy and preventing soil erosion.
The Youth Leadership Robins Region Program visited Atlanta to learn about the legislative process and leadership responsibilities. These students exemplify character, interest in the community and aspire to help shape ideas. I commend the hard work of these students and their sponsors and wish them continued success in their future. The red coats of the Georgia Young Farmers Association were also recognized on Thursday for their initiatives in providing education, leadership and networking opportunities for those interested in agriculture. After meeting with these young students, we can rest assured that our number one industry is being left in a promising generation of future farmers.
Two groups from District 20 visited this week to celebrate days dedicated to them in their honor. Girl Scout Troop 60649 of Cochran was in attendance to receive Senate Resolution 125 recognizing Girl Scouts across the state. We were also privileged to welcome members of the Houston County Library including: Bill and Sylvia Harvey, Carolyn Bonner and Sharon Sullivan in recognition of Library Day at the Capitol. These groups exemplify a great commitment to the growth, development and education of our community and deserve praise for their continued community support.
The Georgia Chamber of Commerce hosted the Energy and Natural Resources Policy Meeting this week. As a guest speaker, we discussed issues relating specifically to Georgia’s water and energy plans. Exchanging ideas with industry professionals, leaders in Washington, DC and constituents allows us to brainstorm new ideas and legislation that contribute to the preservation and utilization of our natural resources.
Although busy, the Senate took time away from the busy schedule to remember former senator Hugh Gillis for his life-long accomplishments. As the longest serving member of the Georgia General Assembly, Senator Hugh Gillis was recognized for his numerous achievements, including his time as the chairman of Natural Resources committee and establishing medical facilities in rural areas. The Senate sends their condolences to his family as he passed away on January 1st of this year.
Former Senator John Bulloch was also acknowledged for his work in agriculture and for serving with great perseverance during his time at the Senate. Sen. Bulloch retired due to illness, however he remains a great friend and we continue to pray for his quick recovery.
For the next several months, I will be spending a lot of time at the Capitol working on behalf of you this Session. If there are any issues you wish to have addressed, I would love to hear from you. I look forward to continuing my service on behalf of my constituents in the 20th Senate District. Georgia is on the right track. I am confident that the steps we take this year will mean lasting prosperity for future generations of Georgians.