It’s a new year and with it comes the beginning of the 2012 legislative session. As many of us reflect back on the previous year and begin to think about our resolutions for the 2012, the Georgia General Assembly must focus its attention on the priorities for the coming session.
Our agenda during the 2012 session will focus on a fiscally responsible and balanced budget, education, reforming the tax code and job growth and economic development.
Our Constitution requires that Georgia have a balanced budget, and that is one of the General Assembly’s main responsibilities every session.
Due to the strains on our economy and the decrease in incoming revenue, the state has had to decrease the size of our government and reduce our state budget by billions of dollars.
In previous years, the state used federal stimulus funds to account for some of the shortfalls. However, the reduction of federal funds will make the balancing of the budget this year just as difficult.
On the brighter side, state revenues have increased for 17 consecutive months in comparison to the same month from the previous year. Although we are not out of the woods yet, this is a start in the right direction.
Ensuring quality education for our children and young adults in our state remains a priority. After all, we are educating our future leaders. As discussed above, balancing our state budget during trying economic times makes the task all the more difficult.
However, we want the cuts to have as little of an impact on education as possible.
Tax reform is essential. We must ensure our revenue streams, while at the same time encouraging and attracting new businesses to come to Georgia. New businesses result in job growth, which in return boosts our economy and increases revenue to the state. The tax code must be business friendly, while also encouraging job growth and creation.
In 2010, the Tax Reform Council was created and gave recommendations for reforming the tax code in Georgia. Although plans to reform Georgia’s tax code were introduced last session, legislation failed to pass in 2011. Overhauling the tax code will make Georgia more job and business friendly and the balance will help both businesses (employers) and individuals (job seekers).
One of the keys to continued economic recovery in our state is job growth and creation, as well as economic development. A business-friendly environment in our state is one of the many necessary factors.
When the state attracts businesses to locate in Georgia, as well as focuses on business expansion for current businesses in Georgia, it benefits our citizens, increases our workforce and helps our economy.
Workforce development is just one of many components of economic development. It is a continuous cycle whereby businesses in our state create jobs for our citizens and in return it adds to the improvement of our economy (and revenue) in Georgia.
During the coming months, please look for my weekly legislative update. If you have any questions, ideas, comments or concerns, please feel free to contact me. If you would like to reach me, please call me at 404-656-5099, write me at: State Rep. Ron Stephens, 226 CAP, State Capitol, Atlanta, Ga. 30334, or e-mail me at email@example.com.