Monday, February 8, 2010

From the Desk of Senator Johnny Grant

State Senator Johnny Grant, R-Milledgeville, has been providing our newsroom with these weekly updates from the Upper Chamber of the Gold Dome. In keeping with the mission statement, I'll try to disseminate them here when they are forwarded to me.

The Buzz from the State Capitol

By Senator Johnny Grant

As the weeks have moved along, the Senate has turned their focus to other pertinent legislation while we wait for the House to pass their version of the FY 10 amended budget. In the meantime, the Senate has continued Appropriations Sub-Committee meetings in an effort to prepare for the version we will get from the House.

At these appropriations sub committee meetings, agency heads come and present their budgets and agendas, much like the joint House and Senate Appropriations Committee meetings a few weeks ago. This is a more in-depth look at agency budgets. Two particular agencies I have been working closely with are the Department of Behavioral Health and the Department of Corrections.

Central State Hospital is a vital element of the economy of Middle Georgia. It is the largest mental health treatment facility in the state and is a source for many jobs. It is also called home by many Georgians. As most of you know, under an agreement with the U.S. Justice Department, the state has an obligation to improve its mental health facilities. Dr. Shelp, head of the Department of Behavioral Health gave his presentation to the committee, vowing that he would transform his department into a more effective, functional service organization. To make this possible, there is a significant increase of almost double the mental health funding in the FY 10 and FY 11 budgets and we intend to see that every dollar is effectively used for improving patient care.

Another major sector of the Middle Georgia economy is the correctional facilities. Coupled with Central State Hospital, the jobs at these facilities represent a big chunk of the work force in Middle Georgia. It is hard to imagine prison facilities closing, as was suggested right before the governor’s budget was released. In dealing with an amended budget of about $36 million less than the original FY 10 budget, we must work even harder to ensure that instead of closing facilities, we eliminate waste and create efficiency.

We have to be proactive and work with legislators, the governor and the agency heads to ensure these vital pieces of the economy remain fully functioning. There is no doubt that it will take work. We have a long road ahead of us, but it’s worth all the time and effort to see a thriving community.

As always, it continues to be an honor to serve in the General Assembly on the behalf of my constituents throughout the 25th district. I look forward to the remaining days in session and I vow to continue to work tirelessly to make sure all the legislation that comes across my desk works for you and all Georgians.

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note: Grant is a Georgia Tech graduate, I imagine the title of his newsletter is some reference to that as the Georgia Tech College Republicans publish a newspaper titled The Conservative Buzz.

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