The beginning of the week was devoted to committee work and finalizing the details on the Senates version of the FY 09 budget. We picked back up in chamber on Thursday, passing a number of bills and preparing for the final days of session. We came back on Friday for what was a historic day in the Senate, as we voted 49 to 6 to pass the largest tax cut ever considered by the Georgia General Assembly.
As I discussed last week, this tax reform plan will bring relief to every working Georgian who pays taxes, no matter their income or in what tax bracket they fall. Under House Bill 1244, Georgians will receive a 10 percent cut to their income taxes, beginning July of this year. This plan will provide the broad-based, immediate relief that our citizens so desperately need. Developing and voting on such influential legislation is what makes my job as a legislator the most rewarding. I am proud to have the opportunity to bring such substantial relief through this tax reform so that my constituents, and every Georgian, can keep more of their hard-earned money.
We closed the week by passing the Senates version of the FY 09 budget. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I can attest that we have been dedicated to developing a sound, fiscally responsible budget that is fair and balanced. This $21.4 billion package addresses the critical issues facing our state, including water, education, healthcare and transportation.
Heres a look at the funding included for each of these areas:
* In addition to the over $40 million included in the FY 08 amended budget for reservoirs, the general budget includes an additional $30 million to increase the states water storage capacity.
* Both the Senate and House have passed several measures to help strengthen Georgias education system. In that light, the budget restores $56 million in austerity cuts for schools across Georgia, and $22 million for low-wealth school districts throughout the state.
* We have ensured that our states healthcare system is kept running at an optimal level by appropriating $341 million to fully fund the PeachCare for Kids Program. $9.2 million will be dedicated to improving access to healthcare in rural areas of our state, as well as $3 million for public health clinics across Georgia. Finally, among other healthcare funds, there is $17.3 million in total funds for trauma care.
* Our transportation system will receive some much needed assistance through $7 million in community improvement district grants for congestion relief, and $50 million to create the Georgia Transportation Infrastructure Bank within the State Road and Tollway Authority.
Im also pleased to announce that on Thursday, the House passed Senate Resolution 845 to give voters the opportunity to approve a special purpose local-option sales tax for their communitys transportation needs. This measure has received strong support in the business community, and I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House on coming to a final agreement on this important transportation measure for 2008.
This has been a productive session, full of constructive debates over some very important issues. Looking ahead to the final week of the 2008 session, I anticipate that the pace will intensely increase as legislators work quickly to move their most important bills. I look forward to reporting next week on all that your state Senate accomplished this year on your behalf.
As always, call or come visit when you need me . . .
State Sen. Jeff Mullis, a Republican from Chickamauga, represents Senate District 53, which includes all or parts of Walker, Catoosa, Dade and Chattooga counties. He can be reached by mail at 212 English Ave., Chickamauga GA 30707; on his local phone at 706.375.1776; by mail at his Capitol address at 421-A State Capitol, Atlanta GA 30334; at his Capitol phone at 404.656.0057; by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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