The second week of the 2019 legislative session was reserved for joint budget hearings from state agency commissioners and department heads. It was a long week – I think we heard over 15 hours of testimony – but nonetheless important to our job of appropriating your taxpayer dollars. There are several points I’d like you to be aware of as it directly affects our district.

On the first day of budget hearings we heard from the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget, who gave us an economic outlook based on the recent trends in the economy and stock market. It’s reassuring to know that Georgia is outpacing the national average as far as job creation goes, and that we have exceeded our revenue collection estimates once again. Though this is great news, we were cautioned that signs point to slowing growth in our economy. This could be because of the stock market’s uncertainty, or because of a number of problems overseas, but the main point is we are already looking and preparing for a potential recession in the coming years.

Some of the most exciting budget proposals have to do with technical colleges in our district. I was extremely happy to hear about $35 million in the amended Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 budget for Chattahoochee Technical College to establish an Aviation Academy in Paulding County. With so many regional airports, and several other huge operations across the state, the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) saw a need to fill the void of aviation technicians and other skilled workers who have an expertise in aviation. I look forward to the many students in our district and across Georgia who will enjoy and learn from this new career path right here in our own backyard.

Additionally, there is an appropriation of a $49.4 million bond for a new West Georgia Technical College campus in Carroll County. This funding is vital for campus growth and will help provide students with the best education possible. I believe a strong technical college education is one of the most important ways we can invest in our youth and community. Once these students graduate, they work in nearly every sector and industry in our state and help to provide the whole state with educated and skilled workers.

And lastly, a $14.9 million bond will provide the University of West Georgia with funding for the College of Business building. Investments in higher education through both the TCSG and University System of Georgia are important to maintain our state as the No. 1 state in which to do business, and uphold our promise to make Georgia the No. 1 state in which to do small business.

I look forward to the completion of these projects and know that these investments in our students as well as in our communities will solidify west Georgia as one of the best places to live, learn and work.

As always, if you ever have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact my office. If you are ever at the Capitol, I encourage you to come by and visit, my door is always open. Thank you for allowing me to serve District 30 under the Gold Dome, I look forward to keeping you updated throughout this session.

State Sen. Mike Dugan, R-Carrollton, serves as the Majority Leader of the Senate. He represents the 30th Senate District which includes portions of Carroll, Douglas and Paulding counties. He can be reached at 404-463-2478 or by email at mike.dugan@senate.ga.gov.

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