The Georgia House of Representatives opened the 2010 legislative session of the General Assembly on Jan. 11 by electing Rep. David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) as Speaker of the House, replacing Glenn Richardson, who resigned last month under pressure amid a near uprising within his Republican caucus.
After a prolonged period of severe drought, residents of the Lake Hartwell area finally are able to enjoy the beauty and recreational benefits of a lake at full pool level. For the half-century or so since construction of the Hartwell Dam, we have lived through the ups and downs of lake levels caused sometimes by the whims of the Army Corps of Engineers but most often by natural fluctuations in rainfall amounts.
The 2009 legislative session will go down as one of missed opportunities, lack of leadership and failure to deal with the real problems that affect every life in our State. Correcting the systemic budget problems and effects of the recession on the state budget and proper funding for transportation met a dismal ending.
By the time this report is published, only one day will remain in the 2009 session of the Georgia General Assembly – Day 40, Friday, April 3. Final approval of the annual state budget for fiscal year 2010 and major decisions on transportation funding and oversight will still be at the top of the agenda, as they were on Day 1 back in January.
On March 19, the Georgia House members voted 123-49 to approve an $18.6 billion state spending plan for the next fiscal year, which starts July 1. Despite a shortfall of $3 billion in state revenues because of the economic downturn, this budget plan is still chock full of questionable spending propped up by federal stimulus/bailout money, more bonded debt, school tax shifts and the largest property tax increase in Georgia history.