School Funding

Lawmakers Discuss Farmers’ Rights, School Funding at Annual Egg Breakfast, and Questions | News

State lawmakers told a crowd in Madison County on Friday that the right to cultivate must become law and schools must be fully funded.

State Senator Frank Ginn and Representatives Alan Powell and Rob Leverett sat at a table in front of members of the Madison County Chamber of Commerce and Madison County Rotary Club in the Jackson Office banquet hall EMC Neese last week, speaking about the problems of the day at the annual House “Eggs and Problems” breakfast which was co-hosted by the Rotary Club and served by Restaurant Ila.

Republican lawmakers were each asked about potential legislation to protect farmers from litigation as populations grow in farming communities. Legislation on the “right to the farm” was passed by the House in 2019, but failed to pass through the Georgia Senate. Leverett said the bill will be reintroduced, noting that if no one else introduces it, he will. Ginn and Powell are also supporting the action. Madison County is one of the major agricultural producing counties in Georgia.

“What’s going on in the company is that there will be a guy with a lifetime dairy farm in a community, and a subdivision moves in next door,” Ginn said. “Cows produce methane. Methane is an odor. More and more people are moving into a housing estate and they say there is a smell here that we don’t like. So they go after this farmer. And the gist of what’s going on in our farming industry is that if we don’t adopt the right to cultivate, that farmer can only endure a certain number of lawsuits. We see this happening time and time again. We have to do something to protect the agriculture industry.

Powell said too many people who move to rural areas fail to see the importance of farming in their own lives.

“People who move in don’t understand,” he said. “They think these eggs appear mysteriously. They don’t know that they have to be produced, nor do they understand the techniques of agriculture. We have to make it known. ”

The three legislators also support full funding for “quality-based education” (QBE). The state of Georgia has a QBE formula for determining how much money school systems should receive, but the state routinely fails to provide enough funding to match what its formula dictates. Meanwhile, revenues have increased significantly in Georgia, and lawmakers have been asked if that could lead to full funding for schools.

Leverett said Georgia is in good financial shape and he hopes this will lead to more funding for education.

“It is a critical issue for us in the House and in the General Assembly to ensure that the state funds the education system,” he said. “I don’t know what the odds are. I don’t have that kind of position, but I know it’s something that we support and try to do.

Powell said Georgia does not borrow money to run its budget and that many states “wish to be in as good shape as the state of Georgia.” He said the state did well to establish a $ 3 billion deficit reserve fund.

“You might remember that during the bad times we were able to support state agencies and state projects and things like that,” Powell said. “Well, your state currently has over $ 3 billion in shortfall reserve. It sounds like a lot, but it’s just enough to survive a few months if there is a major economic collapse.

He noted that landowners are often faced with increasing ad valorem taxes. And state funding for education helps offset tax pressures on local landlords.

“I’m hoping it (education funding) will increase,” Powell said. “The escalation of the ad valorem tax has created so much anxiety.”

Lawmakers have also addressed other issues. Ginn spoke on transport, noting that legislation passed several years ago that put in place a new way for the state to finance transport has paid off, and adding that infrastructure improvements must remain a priority.

“When you say ‘what a difference does that make’, if you have goods that you are trying to move across the country and you don’t have these transport corridors to move them, you know what happens when it does. doesn’t work and that directly impacts business, ”Ginn said. “To me, the people to whom we owe a debt of gratitude are people like you who help fund better infrastructure because it spurs better business. And we all benefit from what’s going on in our business community. When we have a strong economic side of the state, there is no limit to what we can do.

Lawmakers spoke of redistribution, noting that the Madison County commission and school board districts remained largely unchanged, while District 32 of Powell in Georgia House gathered voters for Madison County’s Mill district of Leverett District 33. Madison County is also now part of the United States Congress. 10th District instead of District 9, which is served by Andrew Clyde.

Leverett and Powell both spoke about changing populations and demographics in the state and how rural Georgia is losing political clout to the rapidly growing metro Atlanta area.

“I don’t like that a lot of these Democrats move to our state to get away from Democratic regimes and then impose all of these Democratic thoughts and ideas on those they elect into their state government,” Leverett said.

Powell spoke of the influx of residents to the Atlanta area after the hurricanes.

“These people moved to Atlanta in droves and they didn’t leave,” he said. “Immigrants who arrive, for whatever reason, the Atlanta area seems to be a very attractive place to them. “

Powell said the city-rural divide is growing more pronounced.

“So where we are today, it really becomes more them versus us; it would be metro versus rural, ”Powell said. “Their needs, their wants, their wants are certainly different from those in rural areas. Rural people seem to be much more independent. And that’s how it always has been and hopefully always will be, based on agriculture, on industry. So there is the future of what lies ahead.

Powell said “everyone here can see the growth.”

“Just a few years ago, Gwinnett County was a solid Red County,” he said. “Now it’s a solid blue county. And this migration pushes further. And I will tell you that I am just amazed at the politics of this day. I’m amazed at the division, the animosity that seems so common today. This is largely due to demographic change in the state of Georgia. “

Powell also expressed other concerns, such as inflation.

“The policies of Washington going back several years, this has created a situation where our economy is about to be in ruins,” he said. “I have always had the belief that I lived with that you cannot get into debt and you cannot spend yourself in prosperity. Well, this is what is happening. What are we preparing, a debt of $ 19 trillion? Borrowing money abroad, in China and places like that, well, it comes at a cost. “

Powell said protecting Second Amendment rights is a big deal, and he urged those in attendance on Friday to get involved in electoral reform.

“Some local counties made up rules, and most of them were in metropolitan areas,” he said. “There were a lot of things that needed to be fixed and we hope we have fixed that with electoral reform. There will therefore be electoral reform which will probably be proposed this year. “

Leverett said he was focusing on adopting a “patients’ bill of rights.” He shared that his mother passed away last year and that he was not allowed to see her in the hospital.

“I have learned firsthand how important this bill is,” he said. “And I’m really determined to try and do something on that front.”

The Georgia General Assembly will meet on January 10.