On Jan. 10, we gaveled in for Day 1 of the 2022 session. After a short first day, we all geared up to watch the Georgia Bulldogs bring home the national championship!
With the excitement of the win still on our minds, we were ready to hear from Gov. Kemp onJan. 13 during his “State of the State ‘’ address, which gave us a status update on Georgia in differing areas and outlined his plans for the year ahead. I have highlighted a few important points from that speech below. You may visit https://www.gpb.org/lawmakers/2022/state-of-the-state to hear the entirety of his remarks.
With COVID-19 continuing to affect Georgians, our state not only remained open to maintain our strong economy, but we saw the unemployment rate drop to 2.8 percent, one of the lowest rates among the states. Standing up for job creators and their employees by having an environment for businesses to thrive will always be a top priority with a Republican-led government.
The governor also addressed teacher needs and promised that teachers would have the resources they need to prepare their students for the ever-changing workforce. He proposed a $2,000 pay raise for teachers and staff. This $2,000 pay raise for teachers, combined with a previous raise in 2019 of $3000 will constitute the largest teacher pay raise in Georgia history for educators. The Governor is also looking to add $1.4 billion into our K-12 schools with the focus of hiring more teachers and reducing class size.
The safety and security of our communities are vital to our citizens’ well-being and Georgia’s image as a great place to live, work and raise a family. The governor explained how he is committed to lowering crime with initiatives like creating an anti-gang section in the attorney general’s office and by providing a $5,000 pay raise to law enforcement and state employees. I strongly support this pay increase.
The well-being of Georgians and access to healthcare facilities remains critically important, especially for our rural communities. The governor listed some accomplishments we have had as a state on this front like tripling the number of insurance carriers, reducing healthcare premiums by 12 percent, and extending Medicaid coverage for new moms from six months to a year.
For those looking to enter the medical field, he announced a $1 million expansion of nursing programs in our state universities and a $2.5 million addition for residency slots.
These efforts will increase access to healthcare and ensure there are more healthcare professionals available to meet our ever-increasing medical demands.
We began the current week honoring the memory of Dr. Martin Luther KingJr., and his legacy of service, and on Tuesday we started our week of budget hearings in conjunction with the Senate.
As we work to formulate a balanced 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 the state government can better serve all Georgians. If you have any feedback, do not hesitate to call (404) 656-5052, email, or engage on Facebook. If you would like to receive email updates, please visit my website to sign up for my newsletter or email me.
Jon Burns represents District 159 in the Georgia General Assembly, where he serves as the House Majority Leader.