Sunday, May 13, 2007

final weekly lunsford 05-11-07

This Week at the Capitol with State Representative John Lunsford

 Weekly Capitol Update


May 11, 2007

Forty legislative days.  That’s what it took to iron out the business of the state.  It was a year beset with budget problems but a year that had some great legislation to better help the people of Georgia.  The budget issues have been fairly well debated in our newspapers, in our coffee shops, and at the dining room tables.  It started with a PeachCare for Kids shortfall created by the federal government where they failed to live up to their promises.  The good news that we didn’t hear much of is that both the mid-year 2007 budget and the Fiscal Year 2008 budget had some great funding initiatives.


Our mid-year budget had emergency funds for the Sumter County tornado victims and fully funded PeachCare.  The 2008 budget allowed for a three percent pay raise for teachers and state employees.  It also had pay raises for our state troopers and bus drivers and public school employees.  We put $42.3 million for land conservation, fully funded PeachCare for 2008, and fully funded adult literacy programs and our technical schools.  We put in $75.5 million for state universities and colleges and $242 million for K-12 enrollment growth.  We also had additional funding for child advocacy centers and programs for tracking internet predators.  Overall, they were two pretty good budgets.


Some other highlights included another sales tax holiday for school supplies set for August 2-5, 2007 and energy efficient products sales tax holiday set for October 2-5, 2007.  This program is widely popular with parents buying back to school clothes and supplies for their children and mirrors what some of our next-door neighbor states are doing. 


Education always is at the forefront of our minds when we consider legislation and this year was no exception.  We returned local control to school boards to determine their class sizes as we learned that this was becoming a “budget buster” for many school districts.  We also passed legislation requiring school councils to be composed of a majority of parents.


We passed legislation that would extend Georgia’s HERO scholarship, a program of free tuition to Georgia’s Colleges and Universities for our men and women serving in the National Guard and Reserves who have spent considerable time in fighting the Global War on Terror.  The new bill would provide that tuition assistance to surviving spouses of those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in support of their country.


We exempted the state sales tax for bio-fuels construction materials for any bio-fuels facility primarily dedicated to producing and processing ethanol, biodiesel, butanol, and their byproducts.  We also provided a sales tax exemption for parts for maintenance and repair of aircraft not registered in this state.  This coincides with what other southern states have done allowing us to be competitive with them.


To make our great state a bigger player in selecting the President of the United States, we moved Georgia’s presidential primary to February 5.  This will allow Georgia to have a key presidential primary along with several other states early in the process thus making candidates campaign for our votes versus the race being decided prior to the Georgia presidential election.

Because the ports of Georgia are truly a state economic multiplier, we increased the amount of river pilots for several locals throughout the coast of Georgia to insure that port traffic moves smoothly.  There was other key legislation that passed either the House or Senate that will be considered when we reconvene next January. 


Thank you for placing your trust and confidence in me to serve you.  It is an awesome responsibility that you have given me and a privilege to represent you in the Georgia General Assembly.  For that reason, I am deeply humbled.  If you would like to reach me, please call me at (404) 656-7573 or write me at: State Rep. John Lunsford, 401, State Capitol, Atlanta, GA  30334 or e-mail me at
















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