BUDGET, CONSOLIDATION, AND “PANTS ON THE GROUND”

March 4, 2010

-This past week we passed the 2010 amended budget (which ends June 30), and will start work next week on the 2011 budget. These budgets are technically the only items we are required to finish during the General Assembly. Some highlights from the 2010 amended budget include:
—–This budget is basically the same amount as five years ago, which is amazing when you keep in mind the state has grown by approximately 1,000,000 people during this time
—–The House approved keeping the Tuition Equalization Grant, which provides students assistance to over 134 Georgia school systems
—–We did increase funding for mental health and disaster assistance
—–Many state agencies were cut by an additional 8%, which includes additional furlough days for most state employees
—–Since almost half of the state budget is in education, we passed some legislation giving the school system more flexibility to manage their budgets during this difficult time.

-As you can see the challenge we face in providing a balanced budget for 2011 is daunting. There will be severe cuts again as we deal with the toughest economic environment our state has seen in decades. There are no easy answers, and every area will be touched. We have called off Session for the next two weeks to totally focus on writing a balanced budget, and will be working long hours to accomplish this task.

-Consolidation of Macon and Bibb County took a major step forward as the Charter legislation giving citizens the right to vote on this issue in November, 2010, was signed by a majority of the local House delegation. This train is moving forward, and I am optimistic we may have a vote this year.

-On a much, much lighter note, we did have a break from the budget stress this week when “Pants on the Ground” singer General Platt of American Idol Fame visited the House chambers this week. It was like a rock star had visited the House. And yes, yours truly, did a little dance with him, and got a picture taken with him as well. My 15 year old daughter was very impressed! Photos coming soon!

Thank you for the privilege to serve as your State Representative. Many of you have contacted me about the budget issues, and as we continue making tough decisions, please feel free to let me know your thoughts.

You can reach me by email at rmsceo@aol.com, or join my personal facebook site at Allen Peake, or my campaign facebook site at State Representative Allen Peake, or follow me on twitter.