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State superintendent backs on-post school
Weekly legislative report
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On Tuesday, I had the pleasure of hosting Army Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo, commanding officer of the 3rd Infantry Division and Fort Stewart, in a formal visit to the Georgia House.
Before addressing lawmakers on the division’s activities, Maj. Gen. Cucolo was recognized with HR 373, which I introduced, honoring his remarkable career in service to our nation. The resolution commended the general “for his efficient, effective, unselfish and dedicated public service to the citizens of his country.”
While he was in Atlanta, I arranged for Maj. Gen. Cucolo to meet with state School Superintendent Kathy Cox. She assured us of the state Department of Education’s full support of a new middle school at Fort Stewart.
Accompanying the general at the House was his wife Ginger Cucolo and special guests of mine, Capt. Amy Barnes and 1st Lt. Chewanda Lathan.
New budget
House members voted Thursday to approve an amended $18.9 billion budget for the rest of fiscal year 2009, which ends June 30. The budget had to be trimmed by $2.3 billion because of the shortfall in state tax revenues resulting from the economic recession.
But thanks to an influx of federal funding from the economic recovery plan passed by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama, budget writers were able to come up with $428 million to restore homeowner tax relief grants. The grants, which were marked for elimination in Gov. Perdue’s budget proposal, will save the average homeowner $200-$300 this year.
The supplemental budget measure also includes $145 million in federal funds for Georgia’s schools and funding for additional Department of Agriculture inspectors in the wake of the salmonella contamination at a peanut processing plant in Early County. The House plan also accounts for the furloughing of state employees in the Department of Human Resources and Department of Corrections.
The Senate will now consider the supplemental budget while the House continues to work on the annual budget for fiscal year 2010.
Other legislation approved by the House and sent to the Senate this week includes:
• HB 100, which expands a program implemented last year that provides income tax credits to individuals and corporations that donate to organizations set up to give scholarships for parents to pull their children out of public schools and send them to private schools. I voted against this measure because it is another reduction in state revenue at the expense of our underfunded public school system.
• HB 149, which would allow students in their junior or senior year of public high school to study at a post-secondary college, university or technical college and receive high school credit, which would count toward graduation.
• HB 156, which would allow elected magistrate judges who are serving on ordered military duty to remain in office and eligible for re-election during such duty.
• HB 229, which would require local school systems to conduct an annual fitness assessment and comply with state physical education instruction requirements.
• HB 343, which would establish the position of weight inspector for the Department of Public Safety. The inspectors would enforce weight, registration, size and load regulations for commercial trucks.
House members voted Thursday to approve SB 31, the Georgia Nuclear Energy Financing Act, which would allow Georgia Power to increase rates beginning in 2011 to cover $1.6 billion in construction costs for two nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle.
Supporters of the legislation said building these nuclear units will generate about 3,000 jobs in Georgia and ultimately result in less expensive electricity for Georgia consumers.  

Williams represents the 165th District (Liberty County) in the Georgia House of Representatives. Contact him during the legislative session at 511 Coverdell Office Building, Atlanta, Ga., 30334; by phone at 404-656-6372; or by e-mail at
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