Last week, we opened the 2021-2022 Session with swearing in new members of the General Assembly and re-electing Speaker David Ralston and Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones to lead the Georgia House of Representatives for the next two years. I was proud to cast my vote for Speaker Ralston and Speaker Pro Tem Jones and look forward to their leadership over the next two Sessions.
On Thursday, we heard from Governor Kemp as he shared with us his annual “State of the State” address in the House Chamber. Although this year was different, as most Georgia State Senators watched the address from their Chamber, we were happy to welcome members of the judiciary, leadership from the Senate, Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan, and First Lady Marty Kemp. Governor Kemp assured Georgians that the state of Georgia was resilient - and that we will endure.
Governor Kemp led us all in a moment of silence in memory of those Georgian lives lost due to COVID-19. He also highlighted the success of Georgia’s economy - with over 16,000 jobs created since July 1, 2020, and more than $6 billion invested in our state, over half which was invested outside of the metro Atlanta area. Thanks to our economy’s outstanding performance, we are fortunate that the Governor’s proposed budget will not include budget cuts, will not require furlough days for state employees, and will not require new taxes to continue to provide quality services to Georgians. This success would not have been possible without the hard work of so many Georgians, who found new ways to serve others, even as we all faced new difficulties due to the effects of COVID-19. The Governor’s proposed budget also includes using CARES funding to provide one-time supplements to Georgia teachers and would seek to replace much of the funding cut from Georgia’s K-12 schools due to the downturn caused by COVID-19.
We begin the current week honoring the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and his legacy of service. Dr. King’s words are as true today as they were when he first spoke them: “The time is always right to do what is right.” These words have taken on new meaning during 2020 and the early part of this year as we all have faced new and surprising challenges in our relationships with our friends and families and with those with whom we may not agree politically. My hope for the remainder of 2021 is that we all can seek to do what is right towards all Georgians, not just those with whom we agree.
For the rest of this week, both the House and Senate will participate in budget hearings to begin to formulate their proposals for the budget. As part of the budget process, the General Assembly conducts hearings with the Governor and various agency and department heads to gather information about the Governor’s proposed budget and guarantee that the tax dollars with which you trust us are spent wisely and well. These tax dollars are investments in our state, and it is our responsibility to ensure that these are investments that will benefit all Georgians.
As we work to formulate a budget that considers the needs of all Georgians, I hope that you will continue to share your thoughts with me on the specific needs of your communities and how state government can better serve all Georgians. Please do not hesitate to call (404.656.5052), e-mail, or engage on Facebook with your feedback. It is an honor to represent you in the General Assembly, and I look forward to seeing you soon.
Jon Burns represents District 159 in the Georgia General Assembly where he serves as the House majority leader.