DAHLONEGA, Ga. — Gov. Brian Kemp received a warm welcome in Lumpkin County Friday when he arrived for a bill signing ceremony in the Library Technology Center on the campus of the University of North Georgia.
State Sen. Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega), who sponsored four of the five bills the governor signed, welcomed the governor to his hometown and introduced him to those in attendance.
“Today is a big day for us,” he said. “We’ve been working a lot on some issues dealing with broadband and internet services.”
With a large number of state legislators who helped usher the bills through to passage on hand, along with many county and municipal elected officials, Kemp signed Senate Bills 2, 17, 66, 79 and 454.
Senate Bills 2,17,66 and 79 deal with the expansion of access to broadband internet service and were sponsored by Gooch. SB 454 was carried to the senate by Gooch and deals with electronic assisted bicycles.
Senate Bill 2 allows Georgia’s 41 EMCs which represent about 4.5 million rural customers to get into the broadband business and sell internet services.
An important question that has yet to be answered is how many EMCs will participate.
“I’ll stand here today and be the first one to confess, I don’t know that all 41 will ever get into internet services,” Gooch said, “But I believe this will allow them the opportunity to do so.”
Wednesday, April 24 marked the governor’s 100th day in office and he reflected of some of his administration’s early accomplishments.
“Over and over again, I promised to keep families safe, to put hard working Georgians first and I think that is exactly what we have done with these pieces of legislation today and with these great legislators’ help who are here today.”
Kemp said the 2019 and 2020 budgets are “reflection of the values of our state and our priorities for the future. We have fully funded public 0education for the second year in a row. We have given teachers, counselors and others a historic pay raise this year. We’ve invested $70 million in school security grants, $30,000 for every public school in the K through 12 system. We also doubled funding for mental health services in our high schools.”
The governor also pointed to state investments in public safety. “We created a task force within the GBI to undermine drug cartels, gangs and human and sex trafficking.”
Kemp thanked legislators for “stepping up to the plate” and adding $20 million to the budget for hurricane relief for farmers in south and southwest Georgia “while we wait on those in Washington D.C. to do their part to put people ahead of politics and pass the daggum disaster relief bill.”
Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYN attracts 300,000+ page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com and up to 60,000 Facebook page reach. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com
BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – Gov. Nathan Deal made a stop in Blue Ridge Wednesday, May 2, to sign the state budget – House Bill 684 – for the 2019 fiscal year in Georgia and also bring good news for the University of North Georgia (UNG) Blue Ridge campus.
The $26.2 billion budget, which Deal stated was the largest in the history of the state, will include $5.5 million for a permanent relocation project for the UNG Blue Ridge campus.
Also, during the budget signing, Georgia Speaker of the House and Fannin County resident David Ralston announced the location of the forthcoming facility to be just off of state Route 515 and east of Industrial Park Road.
Of the size of the budget itself, Gov. Deal said, “It reflects the growth of our economy.”
“When I came into office in January 2011, it was a bleak time in our state,” Deal explained of the state’s economy.
As a result of the Recession of 2008, Deal went on to say, by the time he took office, the state revenue had dropped by 18 percent and the “rainy-day fund,” or reserves, was essentially depleted with only enough funds to keep the state government open for approximately two days.
Since then, a dramatic increase in state revenue not only allows for a higher state budget in 2019 but also has allowed for a state income tax rate cut for the first time since the tax was instituted in Georgia in 1934, according to Deal. Deal also noted he expects another income tax cut to come again in 2019.
Regarding the state’s “rainy-day fund,” Deal explained conservative spending has enabled the state to increase reserves to the current amount of $2.3 billion.
“So, we are doing exceptionally well on many fronts,” Deal said.
In his Blue Ridge stop, which was one of five locations across the state of Georgia the governor visited Wednesday to sign the budget, Deal focused his address on spending with regard to higher education.
“We have to meet the needs of today and anticipate the needs of tomorrow,” Deal stated. “(Businesses) need an educated and trained workforce. Without that, we’re not going to be able to see companies expand in our state nor are we going to be in a position to recruit new companies to come here.”
Deal explained the Recession of 2008 also affected state lottery proceeds for the Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally (HOPE) Scholarship but announced the 2019 budget will add $68 million more to the HOPE program for higher education opportunities. The governor also stated the state currently has $1.1 billion in reserves for the HOPE Scholarship.
Also, Deal told of the success of dual enrollment, which allows high school juniors and seniors to take college, university, or technical college courses at no cost to serve as credits toward both their high school diploma and a higher education degree or certificate. The 2019 budget provides $26.2 million for dual enrollment programs, Deal stated.
The REACH Scholarship is another opportunity for students seeking higher education. According to Deal, the REACH Scholarship, which was launched in 2012, is needs-based and provides selected eighth-graders with a $10,000 trust account for future higher education. Promising students who come from families with limited financial resources are selected by teachers and school administrators, and once designated as REACH scholars, the students sign a contract agreeing to maintain a good grade point average, to meet with their mentors regularly and also not to partake in crime or drug use.
In addition to the REACH Scholarship, Deal said every institution in the University System of Georgia, which includes 26 public institutions, has agreed to match the $10,000 trust account for REACH scholars.
Since 2012, Deal explained, the state has invested over $689 million in the University System. In the 2019 budget, one of those University System institutions, the University of North Georgia, will not only receive $5.5 million for the Blue Ridge campus, but also $3 million in bonds to renovate its Oakwood campus in Hall County and $4.7 million in bonds to purchase property to expand its main campus in Dahlonega.
“We know that there are many students who will take advantage of these opportunities, and when they do, it will help us to retain them in the state of Georgia. It will help them to have the credentials that will be necessary to get the higher paying jobs that are here today and be able to attract those jobs for the future. For a personal standpoint of a family, when your child gets those kind of credentials, the likelihood that they can stay in Georgia and not have to leave to find a good job is greatly enhanced,” Deal concluded.
Introducing Gov. Deal at the engagement held at the Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association Art Center, Speaker Ralston called the event “historic in many respects,” being the first time in the history of Fannin County that a state budget bill has been signed within the county.
Of Georgia’s 82nd governor, Ralston said, “Governor Deal has led this state to become the best in all the 50 in which to do business in this country. He has truly been a great governor, and frankly, I want to say this state is going to miss his leadership.”
For Fannin County, Ralston explained the 2019 budget will provide over $273,000 to the Fannin County Board of Education. Statewide, Ralston stated, over $360 million will go toward the state’s teacher retirement system. Also, statewide public school campus funding will account for $16 million, over $44,000 of which will go to Fannin County, according to Ralston.
Additionally, the budget will provide $25,000 in bonds to renovate the community center in Epworth and $277,000 for a new roof at West Fannin Elementary School.
“And today, I guess the highlight of the event is, (the budget) contains $5.5 million for the new, permanent campus for the University of North Georgia at Blue Ridge,” Ralston announced.
Ralston then explained when the campus first opened in the fall of 2015, only 18 students were enrolled at the campus. After three years, Ralston said, “That number is more than 150 students. UNG Blue Ridge’s growth rate has far exceeded our expectations and that’s something I think we can all be proud of.”
According to Ralston, the new facility, which will be 13,000 square feet, will more than triple the campus’s available space and will accommodate 500 students. “That’s 500 futures,” Ralston added, “that will be made brighter, right here in our community.”
After announcing the aforementioned location, Ralston explained the contract is pending final approval from the Board of Regents, which is expected to occur within the next 30 to 45 days.
Speaking of the day’s proceedings with regard to the UNG Blue Ridge campus, Campus Director Sandy Ott stated, “This is a wonderful opportunity for growth and expansion for the University of North Georgia to increase programs, course offerings and educational opportunities in the region. The campus has experienced significant growth since opening in the fall 2015. The opportunities that will be available are endless.”
[Featured image: Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, center, prepares to sign into effect the state’s 2019 fiscal year budget Wednesday, May 2, at the Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association Art Center in downtown Blue Ridge. Joining Governor Deal for the signing are, from left, Dr. Bonita Jacobs, president of the University of North Georgia, David Ralston, speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives, Deal, Terry England, state representative from District 116 and chairman of the state House Appropriations Committee, and Jason Ridley, state representative from District 6.]
Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com
Collins Advocates for Cyber Defense Program at University of North Georgia
“I believe that the University of North Georgia and other outstanding military colleges are well-positioned to help defend our nation from cyber threats, and that’s why I’ve asked my colleagues to further develop America’s defense skills by investing in these institutions.”
WASHINGTON—Reps. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) and Austin Scott (R-Ga.) led a bipartisan group of lawmakers in asking Congressional leaders to establish ROTC Cyber Institutes at the University of North Georgia and other Senior Military Colleges (SMC).
The National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security have named the University of North Georgia and four other SMCs National Centers of Academic Excellence for Cyber Defense (CAE-CD). These schools focus on training leaders who specialize in protecting Americans within the increasingly complex cyber domain.
“Keeping America safe is my first priority as a representative of northeast Georgia. I believe that the University of North Georgia and other outstanding military colleges are well-positioned to help defend our nation from cyber threats, and that’s why I’ve asked my colleagues to further develop America’s defense skills by investing in these institutions,” said Collins.
Collins and his colleagues are requesting that the Senate and House Committees on Armed Services include language in the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act to establish ROTC Cyber Institutes to expand the expertise America’s military and civilian leaders have in critical cyber operations.
All 14 of Georgia’s U.S. Representatives support this request.
The full text of the letter is available below:
Sen. David Lucas to Host Second Rural Georgia Study Committee Meeting
ATLANTA (August 7, 2017) | Sen. David Lucas (D – Macon) will hold a two-day Rural Georgia Study Committee Meeting to discuss broadband, healthcare, telecommunications and developing tourism TOMORROW from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. and WEDNESDAY from 9 a.m. until 12 p.m. The meeting will be held at the University of North Georgia in Dahlonega.
WHO: Sen. David Lucas and Rural Georgia Study Committee Members
WHAT: Two-day Rural Georgia Study Committee Meeting
WHEN: Tuesday, August 8, 2017
9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Wednesday, August 9, 2017
9 a.m. – 12 p.m.
WHERE: University of North Georgia
Continuing Education Center in Dahlonega
25 Schultz Avenue
Dahlonega, GA 30597
Sen. David Lucas, Sr. represents the 26th Senate District, which includes portions of Bibb, Houston and Jones Counties and all of Hancock, Twiggs, Washington and Wilkinson Counties. He may be reached at 404.656.5035 or by email atDavid.Lucas@senate.ga.gov.