By: Sen. Jeff Mullis (R – Chickamauga)

As another busy week passes under the Gold Dome, I would like to update you on all the work we were able to accomplish. Although we did not convene for any legislative days, we shifted our focus towards the budget to ensure your taxpayer dollars are allocated for the greatest benefiting to the state of Georgia. As we move forward with the session, discussion around the budget will continue to be essential, as passing a balanced budget is our only constitutional obligation each year.

This week, joint meetings of the Senate and House Appropriations Committees met to hear an analysis of each state agency’s budget and a summary of proposed changes from agency executives. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our school teachers and students have dealt with innumerable challenges. However, the Governor and Georgia DOE are committed to ensuring our schools have the resources they need to operate safely and that students continue to receive a quality education. In addition to the budgetary items Gov. Kemp outlined last week, Georgia DOE also outlined their intentions to enhance funding for school counselors and create additional social worker positions, school nurse positions and a DOE Military Family Liaison. These changes will help transition students back to learning in the physical classroom and address other barriers to education.

The Department of Public Safety also highlighted their dedication to Georgians, even in the face of a pandemic. Looking forward to Amended Fiscal Year 2021 budget and the General Fiscal Year 2022 budget, Gov. Kemp’s recommendations include funds to purchase 321 vehicles and fund a 75-person trooper school. In FY 2022, the Department hopes to graduate 75 cadets, purchase additional crime-stopping technology and begin constructing a new headquarters building. These are all important and necessary improvements, especially given the strain we have placed on our first responders over the last year. I look forward to seeing these improvements increase efficiency and I commend the hard work and dedication these employees exhibit as they tirelessly keep our citizens safe.

Finally, I would like to provide a quick update on the COVID-19 vaccine rollout plan currently underway in Georgia. As of Friday, the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) has reported administering over 591,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. As part of Georgia’s COVID-19 vaccination plan, doses are being deployed in three different phases. We are currently in Phase 1A+, meaning that doses are being administered to healthcare workers, residents and staff of long-term care facilities, first responders, and adults aged 65 and above (as well as their care givers). If you fall into any of these groups that make up Phase 1A+, I encourage you to find a COVID-19 Vaccination Site near you and follow additional guidance from the Georgia Department of Public Health’s website. After Phase 1A+ is complete, we will then move to the next phase (Phase 1B) which will include non-healthcare essential workers, followed by Phase 1C, which will include those between the ages of 16-64 with preexisting medical conditions.

This week, the Senate will return to session on Tuesday, January 26 to convene for Legislative Day 5. If I can ever be of assistance, please do not hesitate to reach out to my office here at the Capitol. I am always more than happy to be of service, and I look forward to continuing to represent your interests in Georgia.