Economy & Jobs
In the wake of the financial crisis and Great Recession, Georgia entered the month of January 2011 with a staggering unemployment rate of 10.4%. A lot has changed since then. Today Georgia stands as a beacon of economic opportunity for the rest of country.
Georgia’s economic vitality stands as testament to the hard work and leadership of Governor Nathan Deal, Speaker David Ralston, and the entire House Republican Caucus. Since 2011, Georgia has seen the creation of over 650,000 new private sector jobs leading to an unemployment rate of just 4.3%. Further, Georgia has been named the # 1 state in which to do business a record 5 years in a row by Site Selection Magazine.
Our caucus’ commitment to low taxes, less regulation, and fiscal conservatism are anchored by the goal of creating a Georgia where families can thrive, businesses can grow, and everyone has the opportunity to succeed.
Our caucus believes every child deserves a quality education, regardless of their zip code, and we have worked diligently to invest in our state’s education system. In the Fiscal Year 2018 budget, 62% of all new revenue – or $775 million – was devoted to education, including teacher salary increases and the nationally-recognized HOPE scholarship. Further, of our state’s nearly $25 billion budget in FY 2018, $9.4 billion alone was dedicated to our K-12 school system.
Building on our belief in each child’s right to a great education, our caucus came together in 2017 to pass an innovative initiative aimed at saving Georgia students from chronically failing schools. In 2017, 89,000 Georgia students were trapped in 153 chronically failing schools around the state. Under the leadership of Governor Deal, our caucus enacted HB 338 which created a collaborative “turnaround” program for failing schools whereby the state will with partner participating schools to address the challenges – whether arising from poverty, safety, or health – that prevent students from achieving success.
In 2015, Georgia made history. In the face of uncertain transportation funding from Washington, the House Republican Caucus stepped up to take control of our state’s infrastructure destiny by passing HB 170, an aggressive, groundbreaking initiative that provides our state with over $10 billion in state transportation funding over 10 years.
However, our caucus recognizes we cannot afford to rest on our laurels. We can no longer simply build new, bigger roads to future prosperity. The future of Georgia lies at the intersection of continued surface road improvements as well as increased transit investment to ensure parents spend less time in traffic and more time with their families and businesses can efficiently move their products by road, rail, and sea.
Budget & Taxes
As states around the country grapple with revenue shortfalls, Georgia has been a beacon of responsible fiscal management in the wake of the Great Recession. While state revenue has grown consistently year-over-year out of the Great recession, adjusting for inflation and population growth, Georgia’s spending matches levels from decades earlier. For example, our Fiscal Year 2017 Budget, while the largest in nominal terms at the time, maintained per capita spending levels similar to those in 1998 when Georgia had 2 million fewer residents!
While demands on our state’s budget have grown each year, our caucus has fought for conservative budgets that focus on long-term security over short-term gain. Working with Governor Deal, our caucus has committed itself to seeing our Revenue Shortfall Reserve fund (a.k.a. The Rainy Day fund) reach $2.5 billion by the end of his term in office. Not only does this money protect us in the event of an economic downturn, but it also reduces our state’s borrowing costs by bolstering our AAA bond rating.
Public Safety & the 2nd Amendment
Our caucus believes in the right of every Georgian to defend his or herself and their family from danger. That’s why we have responsibly expanded law-abiding Georgians’ 2nd Amendment rights. Weapons carry license holders now can carry a concealed handgun on certain parts of college campuses as well as on private property subject to the property owner’s approval.
Further, our caucus remains committed to deterring harmful criminal activity related to terrorism, gang violence, and sex trafficking. Under the leadership of Speaker Ralston, we have enacted legislation that creates a domestic terrorism felony offense, increases penalties for gang activity, and strengthens sex trafficking laws to target both those individuals who profit from and those individuals who solicit victims of sexual servitude.
During the 2017 Session, the Georgia House Republican Caucus took the first step in a multi-year initiative aimed at revitalizing and empowering the rural communities across our state. Recognizing the unique needs of the millions of Georgians living outside our metropolitan regions, Speaker Ralston and our caucus formed the House Rural Development Council (RDC). Over the summer and fall of 2017, the RDC has met 18 times across 11 rural communities around Georgia.
Building on the RDC’s recommendations, the House will endeavor to strengthen rural Georgia by addressing workforce needs such as skill gaps and population decline, creating a framework that expands broadband connectivity across the 16% of Georgia that lacks access, investing in road and rail infrastructure, and reforming our state’s health care laws to create a health care system with the flexibility to meet the unique needs of rural Georgia.