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Governor lays out his priorities for the General Assembly
burns jon 2015
Rep. Jon Burns

I am honored and humbled to represent you again in the Georgia House of Representatives. As with the start of each new General Assembly, we took the oath of office on Jan. 12. The 180 members, some newly elected, sat down to begin the state’s business.

The first order of business was to elect the officers of the House and determine the rules we will be governed by within the chamber. After hearing the nominations, Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) and Speaker Pro-Tempore Jan Jones (R-Milton) were both reelected to their respective positions. We reconvened that afternoon to watch the swearing in of Gov. Nathan Deal and the other state constitutional officers in the House chamber.

Gov. Deal delivered his annual state of the state address in the House Chamber on Jan. 14. This speech gives the governor the opportunity to convey his assessment of the current condition of our state government and goals for continued progress and success in the new year. The governor’s speech addressed his plans for education, transportation, and other important issues facing our state.

Transportation has become a very important topic for Georgians. I agree with the governor that we have to look at all of our options, but one option we cannot accept is doing nothing. The problem we face is that roads, ports, bridges and other transportation infrastructure must be upgraded and repaired if we are to continue to grow as a business leader in the United States.

Unfortunately, reports show that in the 2014 fiscal year, we collected approximately 17 percent less in state motor fuel funds per capita for transportation than we did a quarter of a century ago, in part because of greater fuel-efficient vehicles. However, we currently have millions more people travelling on our roads. Industry experts agree that to simply maintain what we currently have will require additional revenue. As a member of the House Transportation Committee, this critical problem will be at the forefront as we seek to find a workable solution.

Education is a topic that will always be on our minds because education allows our children to reach their fullest potential.

In his state of the state address, Gov. Deal made education considerations one of the state’s top priorities, announcing the establishment of an education reform commission to study a number of issues affecting our education system. Education is the hallmark of any community and we must continue to strive to make our system better. We have come a long way from where we were, but we can never be satisfied with just the status quo. We must strive for continued improvements, which is why I will follow the governor’s plan that should allow for increasing access to Georgia’s world-class early learning programs, recruiting and retaining high-quality teachers in our classrooms, and expanding school options for Georgia’s families. The governor’s Education Reform Committee composed of educators, legislators, and a variety of other stakeholders will recommend potential improvements by Aug. 1 of this year.

As a member of the Appropriations Committee of the House, we, along with our Senate counterparts, will meet this coming week to hear budget requests from the various state departments. As this $21.8 billion budget moves along, we will need to dissect the budget, address the programs that are not working, and keep our taxpayers in mind as we look at what is needed.

Your comments and concerns are important to me. Please feel free to contact me at (404) 656-5099 or at