The Paulding County Chamber of Commerce’s 2012 Eggs and Issues Breakfast featured a legislative panel consisting of District 31 State Sen. Bill Heath, R-Bremen; District 17 State Rep. Howard Maxwell, R-Dallas; and District 19 State Rep. Paulette Braddock, R-Hiram, and Rep.-elect Micah Gravley, R-Douglasville. They answered questions and concerns from attendees about the session beginning in mid-January.
The big concern the panel shared was the upcoming budget.
“We continue to struggle to balance our budget,” Heath said.
The panel spoke of the uncertainty of how the federal government’s “fiscal cliff” will affect the state budget. The “cliff” is a combination of required tax increases and budget cuts which will go into effect if Congress does not agree on a new budget by Dec. 31.
“The budget is always the kicker,” Maxwell said.
Another issue raised was transportation problems in metro Atlanta and their effect on business growth in Paulding County.
“I have an interest in widening Highway 92,” Gravley said.
With the planned expansion of the Savannah harbor there is a need to fix area transportation problems because of the heavier volume of goods expected to flow through Georgia, he said.
Paulding County Board of Commissioners Chairman David Austin asked Heath about the timing of work to widen Highway 92. Heath said he would try to find out a time line.
Paulding County School Board Nicholas Chester asked the panel to talk about education.
Braddock said some have suggested a repeal of the federal “No Child Left Behind” law. It should help with formulation of the budget once state lawmakers know if any final action is taken at the federal level, she said.
Gravley said he wants the state’s community and technical colleges to work with high schools to connect students with college options. He wants to help equip students with the education they need to be able to thrive in the workforce, Gravley said.
He said there is a need to change the method of preparing students for life after graduation, because not every student wants to go to college.
Braddock said she would like to encourage schools to offer dual enrollment options so students can receive college credit in their last two years of high school. She also would like to make it easier for students to get access to the program, she said.