Editor’s Note: This legislative update was written and submitted by State Sen. John Wilkinson (R-Toccoa). The views expressed in this commentary are his.
Following a three-day legislative week, the Senate did not convene for the five sequential days in order to conduct a series of meticulous and labor-intensive budget hearings. With this, my colleagues and I listened to budgetary analyses from various state agency liaisons and commissioners in our respective Senate Appropriations subcommittees. The implications of the budget proposals are resounding and I remain dedicated to keeping every Georgian at the top of my mind.
As a general overview, our state is economically sound. Georgia businesses have been growing exponentially, unemployment is at an all-time low and our ability to create jobs has seen monumental success. In addition to these successes, the Georgia Department of Revenue reported a 4. 5 percent increase in state revenue for the month of January.
With that being said, there are still many steps that can be made towards being a better Georgia. Some of these steps have already begun when it comes to our state’s education system. As Vice Chairman of the Education and Youth Committee, I attended the press conference held by Governor Kemp and State Superintendent Woods announcing legislation that will reduce the amount of standardized tests for Georgia’s students. The proposed bill eliminates four standardized tests on the high school level, and also eliminates a test for fifth-grade students. Our hope is to reduce the burden put on students, their families, and their teachers by high stakes standardized tests. Both teachers and students know all too well the stress caused by these tests, and I believe this legislation will put their best interest first.
I also had the distinct pleasure of hosting a number of wonderful groups in the state Capitol. A Senate Resolution I presented, SR 667, recognized February 4, 2020, as Equine Youth Day. Our state’s group of young equestrians has demonstrated an immense amount of discipline, excellence, and care for animals. The other group was the Georgia Farm Bureau Federation (GFB). GFB has played an integral part in the development of our agriculture industry and has provided an incredible network of support to make sure our members are able to prosper. Their service to agribusiness has been insurmountable and I look forward to working with them to craft legislation that continues to help our industry grow in the economy.
If you would like to schedule a group visit to the Capitol or have any questions or concerns about the legislation being proposed and discussed, please reach out to my office. I took an oath to serve you and my work in the Chamber, and throughout meetings, is to reflect our community needs. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to do so.
Sen. John Wilkinson serves as Chairman of the Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee. He represents the 50th Senate District which includes Banks, Franklin, Habersham, Rabun, Stephens, and Towns counties and portions of Hall and Jackson counties. He can be reached by phone at 404.463.5257 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.