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Budget work dominates week

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POSTED: February 12, 2008 5:02 a.m.
This session has started off extremely busy as the senate is already considering and tackling major issues, including a statewide water management plan, gun rights and the budget.

Water:
The statewide Water Plan has passed in the Senate with my support. This bill is important to strengthen the fair and conservative management of our state's precious water resources. Provisions were added to the legislation that will help manage both water quality and quantity.
Conservation of our water is important, and this bill provides important upgrades in our infrastructure that will enable us to use our resources more efficiently. One important point that I want to emphasize is that this legislation in no way allows for water basin transfers, and I would not support legislation that did. This legislation is an important part of planning and preparing for our water needs now and in the future. It will help protect the water rights that many Georgians fear will be taken from them. When this bill comes before the Georgia House of Representatives, I hope they realize the importance of the provisions that will help to solve Georgia's water issues.

Guns:
House Bill 89, as passed by the senate, is mainly designed to protect the rights of those Georgia residents who possess a firearms license, which enables them to carry a gun. It strengthens the Second Amendment rights of these license holders, while not infringing on the rights of property owners. License holders will also be allowed to carry their guns to state parks and other facilities. Another main component provides for more efficient firearm license application processing by the local Probate courts. This bill is a step in the right direction, as I feel strongly about laws that enhance the protection of our second amendment right to bear arms.

Budget:
The General Assembly is out of session this week to conduct hearings on the state budget. One of the most important tasks that the General Assembly takes on each session is passing a balanced budget, which is required under our state constitution (something our federal government should be required to do also!). The citizens of our great state expect their government to be good stewards of their tax dollars and to use their money wisely.
Program based budgeting allows for more accountability and moderating of the effectiveness of programs. This is an important way that we can ensure tax dollars are being used effectively and that programs themselves are justified.
In the past, politicians ignored long-term fiscal planning and discipline, and instead focused on short-term big government solutions, which resulted in wasteful government spending, higher taxes and a deficit.
Under Republican leadership we passed a balanced budget grounded on conservative fiscal principles that allowed us to cut waste, plan for the future and make government work more efficiently and effectively for the people.
Despite all of the unforeseen economic challenges over the recent years, from hurricanes to national economic conditions, Georgia currently has $1.5 billion on reserve which equals 8.15 percent of the state's net revenue.
As majority leader in the Senate and a member of the Appropriations Committee, I am committed to redoubling our efforts to ensure this session is used to continue the progress we have made so our state will be strong and prosperous now and into the future.

Williams is the Senate Majority Leader. He represents the 19th Senate District, which includes Appling, Jeff Davis, Liberty, Long, Montgomery, Tattnall, Toombs, Wayne and Wheeler counties.
 

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