As the 2015 Georgia State General Assembly convenes for legislation this year, many thoughts are on the minds of Georgia’s citizens. But the main thought on everyone’s minds would have to be the thought of what comes next? What will be the key issues facing Georgia this year? And finally, what will be done to fix them?
Georgia was recently ranked the best state to do business. However, as great as that is, we still face some problems in persuading businesses to locate here. The main one being transportation. In 2012 Home Depot, which is based in Atlanta incurred millions of dollars in “waiting fees” in the city alone. What exactly is a “waiting fee”? Well, it’s exactly what it sounds like – trucks having to pay to wait in traffic. Now, of course they’re not actually paying to wait on the roads. But they are paying for the fuel in the truck, as well as the upkeep on the vehicle. Which may not seem like much, but diesel isn’t cheap – especially not for a fleet of trucks. This factor has driven away prospective business for a few years now. The next step is to resolve the problem, which is a lot easier said than done, the only thing that can be done is to remove some of the daily congestion we see on our roads. The 5th District is one of the most congested districts in the state and we need new ideas. We are the only large city without a comprehensive mass transit system in the US. Furthermore in order to fix all our woes we’ll need money. The GA Chamber and others have estimated that we need at least 1.5 billion ANNUALLY just to keep things from getting worse. We’ve tried things like the T-SPLOST and failed because the effort well had been too poisoned by years of “no new taxes” campaigning by the GOP. If we want a better transportation system we’ll have to pony up. We’ll see where this goes this year, but hopefully funding will come to relieve the massive traffic issues we face today.

Another issue that is always on the mind of citizens is education and helping out our children. But, at the same time, education isn’t just about children or teenagers. Education affects adults as well, whether it’s continuing education, or starting fresh from scratch for your children to have a better quality of living. In this way, education not only enriches the lives of citizens by making them smarter, but it also allows the economy to continue to grow and improvements to be made in society. Education has always been a corner stone to greatness. Over recent years our school system has undergone some curriculum changes. We went from QCC, (quality core curriculum), to GPS (Georgia performance standards). Neither of them quite were able to fit the bill. So three years ago, Georgia switched to a system known as the CCGPS (common core Georgia performance standards). This was meant to be a system that was a set style for each state to ensure graduation. However, no child is alike. So this year Georgia is considering a curriculum that is strictly for Georgia students – controlled by the state providing help to students in the areas that state research has shown to be problematic areas. This provides our students with the proper education that they need, but also provides them with the education that they deserve. Although curriculums are important, the real huge fights will be over what to do about chronically failing schools or “rogue school boards” as has happened in recent years in Atlanta and Dekalb. The key will be how you preserve local control and preserve the public school system that has served this country so well while coming up with a fair, system, respectful of democracy, to deal with these real problems. Let’s hope that we can come up with sensible solutions.

With all of these issues on the table, there is a lot on the line for Georgia. These are issues that come up for discussion every year as we try to make Georgia a prosperous state. In addition to the issues I have mentioned there will also be continued work and fights over medical marijuana legalization in Georgia and I will try to keep folks updated. Although there have been recent developments from the Governor’s office, the fight is far from over. We as a state have everything we need to be the best. All we can hope for now is that the legislature picks up the slack, and does what’s right for Georgia. Please make sure to contact your State Representatives and Senators to let them know how y’all feel about particular pieces of legislation. Thanks for all you do.

Reposted from State Senator Curt Thompson’s blog (D-5th). He resides in Tucker, GA and is Chairman of the Special Judiciary Committee. Make sure to follow him on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google Plus. His website is www.makingyourvoicecount.com

Posted by Sen. Curt Thompson

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