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Education gains in budget
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We began the 2013 legislative session on Jan 14. Since this was the first day of a new term, members of the state House of Representatives were sworn into office and soon after cast our first vote on the House floor for the election of the Speaker of the House.

After hearing the nominations and speeches, Rep. David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) was re-elected Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives. Next, we elected our Speaker Pro Tem, Rep. Jan Jones (R-Milton), and other House officers.

On Wednesday, Gov. Nathan Deal gave his third annual State of the State address before a joint session of the General Assembly.  During this address, our governor discussed Georgia’s economy, which has increased revenues from the previous year; however, we still have a long road ahead to recovery.  The focus shall remain looking forward, to our future and to a prosperous future for Georgia.

Gov. Deal discussed state spending priorities, strengthening our ethics laws to be applied equally to all levels of elected officials, and other top priorities for the year such as public safety, education and economic growth.

One of the highlights of the State of the State address was Gov. Deal’s emphasis on the importance of education and job growth. The proposed $19.8 billion budget for FY2014 includes education-related funding, such as adding 10 days a year to the pre-K program ($12.9 million) to restore it to the full school year of 180 days; continuing the reading mentors program ($1.6 million) to enable the tools and skills for children to read by the third grade; new lottery funds ($6.5 million) for the HOPE grant for specific fields (such as nursing, early childhood education and commercial truck drivers); and increasing funding for K-12 education by an additional $147 million for FY2014.

The 2013 legislative session completed the fourth of 40 legislative days on Jan 17. The General Assembly was not in session this week. However, the House and Senate held joint budget hearings during which each state agency presents their budget and starts the legislative budget process.

The General Assembly will continue its work at the Capitol on Monday for the fifth legislative day of session.

I will continue to keep all of you informed throughout the 2013 legislative session. Please feel free to contact me with any questions, ideas, thoughts or concerns. It is both an honor and privilege to continue serving you in the General Assembly.

If you would like to reach me, please call me at (404) 656-5099 or write to me at: State Rep. Jon Burns, 18 Capitol Square, 228 State Capitol, Atlanta, GA 30334 or e-mail me at