ATLANTA (WJBF) – In just three months, state lawmakers will head back to the gold dome to finalize the state budget.
They’ll look at key issues like health care, education and internet access to serve Georgia’s 159 counties, covering a population of around 11-million people.
Starting January, state lawmakers will propose bills and identify where the budget should go over 40-legislative days.
Butch Miller, President Pro Tempore, Georgia Senate said, “Well one of the hottest topics will be public safety. We have had an epidemic in crime and mental health issues.”
Ben Watson said, “Gang activity is playing a huge role even in the rural areas.”
Teri Anulewicz said, “Crime and public safety – that is an issue we need to talk about in the general assembly so that everyone in Georgia can live in a safe community.”
More than half of the nearly 30-billion dollar budget goes to education.
“Public education is on the mind of everyone. We are in the middle of the pandemic and understand how the pandemic has impacted students,” said Anulewicz.
“Education will be at the top of the list. It’s a major portion of the budget – about 54% percent. We have given a $3000 raise. That may be revisited,” said Watson.
Anulewicz said, “We need more health for mental and behavioral health services.”
Lawmakers also want to focus on helping rural areas in the state.
Ben Watson said, “Broadband in rural communities is important. The pandemic has stressed that even more.”
“There is a a massive surplus in the state of — that is a good problem to have,” said Anulewicz.
State lawmakers also expect new legislation like gun control and abortion to come up for debate.
Bills have to pass both the senate and the house to become law — but the governor could veto the bills, unless there is a two thirds majority in the other two houses.
But before the 2022 session in January, state lawmakers will assemble at the state capitol for a special session starting November 3rd to re-draw boundaries as part of redistricting efforts.