Although January 8, 2018, seems like a long way off, it really is just around the corner and it signals the beginning of a what must be a historical legislative session. What makes 2018 special?
- The 2018 General Assembly is the last hurrah for Governor Nathan Deal.Governor Deal’s eight years have been a roller coaster ride for Georgia public education.Unfortunately his two terms will be most remembered for the failure of Amendment 1 designed to take over Georgia’s failing schools.Much to his credit and the work of Rep. Kevin Tanner the Turnaround plan that resulted is both workable and reasonable.The fact that Governor Deal led the effort to adequately fund the Turnaround program is a credit to his support for public education.
- The 2018 General Assembly portends to be one of the shortest sessions in many years for two reasons.First there are NO major ground shaking issues on the plate and secondly re-election is chief on the minds of every legislator, particularly with the success that Democrats have had in recent special elections.Legislators may not receive campaign contributions once the session begins and until the session is over.Getting to the campaign/contributions trail as quickly as possible will certainly impact what happens under the Gold Dome.
- There has been significant change in the makeup of the General Assembly since the 2017 Session. A number of legislators have resigned to seek other offices and to take other jobs.Public education lost a great ally when Rep. Amy Carter of Valdosta resigned to take a position with the Technical College System of Georgia.She has been most vocal and supportive of public education in her eleven years in the General Assembly.She will be missed!The absence of David Shafer as President Pro Tem of the Senate will certainly impact the speed and effectiveness of Senate.With many legislators looking over their shoulder at the coming election, don’t expect them to get involved in controversial issues.
- The one thing that the 2018 General Assembly must do is pass the FY 2019 Budget.That task is made much easier by the state’s continued solid financial performance.Tax collections are up, AGAIN, and that means that there is considerable new money to cover pet projects.
The speed of the legislative session will be modulated by how quickly the Budget moves through committees.Last year the legislature pretty much abandoned their traditional week of budget hearings and moved on to the legislative calendar—expect the same this year.
- We can expect considerable political jockeying and grandstanding in front of the cameras as announced candidates compete for media attention.
- Please put February 20, 2018, on your calendar.That will be the GAEL/PAGE Day at the Capitol and gives you and other educational leaders an opportunity to have a presence under the Gold Dome.
More details on that day will come your way later.