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District 11 State Representative Rick Jasperse gives a legislative update at the June 1 Squires & Stags breakfast. Photo by Wayne Tidwell.

Half of Georgia’s $26 Billion budget goes to education

Representative Jasperse gives legislative update

By Wayne Tidwell, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The Georgia state budget is now $26 billion. Half of it goes to education.

“Those of us on the appropriations committee have a hard job,” District 11 Georgia Representative Rick Jasperse told a crowd at the Squires & Stags June 1 breakfast.

“The needs are greater than that ($26 billion). Half of all that money goes to education. Austerity cuts back in 2009-2010, during the recession, devastated education. This budget will refund it back again. That will fully fund the QBE (Quality Basic Education) program everyone talks about.”

He said that Pickens will get $430,000 and Dawson will get $319,000. The school safety budget will provide $55,000 for Pickens and $48,000 for Dawson County. The teacher pension fund will receive $361 million from the state in addition to what local systems and individuals put into it.

We spend less per person than we did in 2008, according to Jasperse.

He said Georgia was able to maintain a triple A bond rating through the downturns in the economy due to hard work by the house, senate and the governor.

“Under Governor Deal’s leadership, I think we are going to look back eight years from now and say ‘man, what a governor.’”

Jasperse said a state tax cut has been long in the making.

“Most amazingly, something we have all been working on for years, and due to President Trump’s national tax cuts, we are able to finally cut the state income tax,” Jasperse said.

As chairman of the Higher Education committee of the 22-member Rural Development Council, Jasperse said he spent 70 hours in meetings all across the state to try to determine rural needs. Other committees included healthcare, economic development, broadband and more.

“We looked at what can we do to fix these things,” Jasperse said. “Healthcare was number one and I got to carry it (bills through the legislature).

“Some counties don’t have one general practice physician,” Jasperse said. “His insurance is incredible because he has to do everything. We worked very hard on that. We worked on Medicare codes and tax credits for rural hospitals.”

The committees also worked on broadband solutions, adoptions and distracted driving, the most controversial thing the general assembly passed. Months were spent arguing over the distracted driving bill according to Jasperse.

“How this got started is John Carson of Cobb County was looking at why car insurance rates were rising so fast,” Jasperse said. “ He looked at why that was happening and found that it was low-speed accidents. Thousands of them over the state. The insurance companies said it was because they (drivers) weren’t paying attention.”

The gist of the law is that you cannot hold your phone while driving.

“I was against the bill until the very end,” he said. “It called for a $500 fine on the first offense. Was it a tax on rural Georgians, poor Georgians? If you dive a new car you have Blue Tooth. But if you drive a 1998 Ford pick-up truck like I drive you don’t have blue tooth. So was that really a tax on poor people?”

The final bill called for a first conviction $50 fine and one point; second conviction a $100 fine and two points, and third and subsequent conviction, $150 and three points.

There are transportation projects going on all over the state of Georgia. He said round-a-bouts have been proven safer.

Jasperse said he is chairing a school safety study committee and has held one meeting already.

“We’re looking specifically at what schools can do to make sure that schools are safer for our kids. They are relatively safe today but what can we do to stop these crazy shootings.”

At the request for help from a school administrator who was reluctant to allow a caller access to the school’s safety plan, Jasperse added to a bill a clause that would not require a school administrator to reveal the school’s safety plan.

Asked about pressure on legislators to do something about school safety, Jasperse said that the state “spent an incredible amount this year just on children’s mental health because that’s where it’s at.”

“It’s a tough issue,” Jasperse said.

He said Pew did a research study and found that 15 to 18-year-olds talk to their parents less than 10 minutes per week.

Another tough issue is curbing opioid use in Georgia, Jasper said. He said nationally there is a lot of work going into programs that allow pharmacists to get information from other pharmacies on the prescription activity of a person seeking to fill an opioid prescription.

Jasperse is chairman of the Higher Education committee and member of the Agriculture & Consumer Affairs, Appropriations, Health & Human Services, Human Relations & Aging and Public Safety and Homeland Security committees. He said he likes his job.

He recommended learning about and voting in the upcoming elections, specifically the June 16 Pickens County GOP’s “Tomato Sandwich Picnic” where all of the run-off candidates will appear, including gubernatorial candidates Casey Cagle and Brian Kemp and Lt. Governor candidate David Shaffer.

Early voting starts July 2 for the for the July 24 primary election.

Squires & Stags meets in the Mountains Grille at the Clubhouse at Lake Sconti. Coffee is ready at 7:45 a.m. followed by a buffet breakfast served at 8:00 a.m. Big Canoe residents and guests are invited to attend the meeting. The price of breakfast is $13 payable on your POA account or by cash at the door.

Reservations are required and must be received by Noon on Thursday before the Friday morning meeting. You may also call Kim Cooper at (706) 268-3346 to make reservations.

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