Most Georgians list education and immigration as some of the biggest issues facing our great state. This week, the state House passed legislation addressing each of these important issues.
From an educational standpoint, Georgia lacks science and math teachers at all grade levels. For example, our state colleges and universities produced only one physics teacher last year. This demonstrates the significant problem our state faces when trying to attract teachers in high-need areas. For this reason, Georgia has been forced to “import” teachers from other states.
House Bill 280 seeks to fix this problem by increasing the salary of math and science teachers in Georgia. Although I do not feel that increasing teacher salaries are necessarily reflected in student achievement, I voted for this legislation for two reasons.
First, we have a dangerous shortage of math and science teachers in Georgia and in order to compete in an economy where science and technology is the fastest growing sector in our economy we must insure that our young people are equipped to meet the challenge. Members of the Appropriations Committee have stated that funding needed for these increases will derive from the Board of Regents and will not be a shift within the Department of Education. It is my hope that this incentive will encourage more teachers in these critical areas.
For the last several years, Georgia has passed some of the strictest immigration laws in the country. Despite this, a loophole in our elections laws allowed thousands of illegal immigrants to register to vote. As a result of this problem, we passed House Bill 45, which requires all people registering to vote to prove their citizenship. Birth certificates, driver’s licenses, passports, and U.S. naturalization documents are among the numerous types of proof that will be accepted. This small step is crucial to preventing voter fraud and preserving confidence in the electoral system.
Also, this week Governor Sonny Perdue reduced the revenue estimate for the upcoming fiscal year by $1.6 billion. This will mean additional cuts in state programs. I continue to believe that Georgia’s future remains bright. I will continue to support legislation that cuts employer penalties and reduces taxes on small businesses. I believe these steps will create an environment for growth that can help those struggling with the economy.
Finally, this week the House and Senate amended our previously set schedule. This new schedule will result in the General Assembly concluding the 40th and final day of the legislative session for this year on April 3.
The state House addressed several of the issues that are important to most Georgians this week. However, I want to know what you think is important and what you think we need to be addressing. Should you have any questions or concerns, please contact me at my Capitol office at (404)656-0109 or by email at ‘firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing from you soon.