Sen. Ronnie Chance's blog

5 issues facing legislators besides budget

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As we move towards the not much awaited “Ten Reasons to be Optimistic About 2012” column now in the development stage, here are some other issues besides the state budget that will be on the legislative agenda as the General Assembly convenes Jan. 9, 2012.

1. The Criminal Justice Reform Special Council Report has been published, and it appears sentencing reforms and other needed updates could happen this session. Read More»

A closer look at the Teachers’ Retirement System

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The Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS), which is not administered by Employees’ Retirement System (ERS) but as a separate state entity, is the largest of the state’s retirement systems.

TRS, whose members are largely employed by local school systems as teachers, has more than 222,000 active members and more than 87,000 retirees. Read More»

Senate notes: Budget, immigration, tax reform are coming

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This past week the Senate approved its version of the FY2012 Budget, by a vote of 47-4. This concludes the Senate stage of the process, and the bill will now go to conference committee for finalization.

The Senate FY2012 Budget focuses on enhancing customer service by moving funds to the Department of Revenue’s customer service department and the licensing section of the Secretary of State’s Office. Additionally, the Senate proposal adds more agencies to “shared services,” which includes combined payroll and other services for greater efficiency. Read More»

Senate notes: Revenue Committee making progress . . . slowly

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[Last month] the Special Joint Committee on Revenue Structure met to discuss potential changes to Georgia’s tax laws in response to the report published earlier this year by the Special Council on Tax Reform.

Currently, there are four House bills, HB 385-388, that contain various aspects of the council’s recommendation. These four bills have been the source of widespread confusion and consternation in recent weeks. Read More»

Unlike other states, Georgia remains fiscally solid

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Bankruptcy for states?

Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Senator John Cornyn of Texas have stirred up controversy with a proposal to allow states facing severe financial problems to declare bankruptcy.

The intent is to provide an alternative to federal bailouts and allow states to re-negotiate their various debt obligations in a manner somewhat like a corporation or individual, in bankruptcy court. The proposal is being targeted at states like Illinois, which is currently expecting a projected 47 percent budget gap and an estimated pension funding level of 54 percent. Read More»

Notes from the Senate: Double-digit revenue increase best in 24 months

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Double digit increase best in 24 months - $48.2 million or 46 percent

State revenues took a jump in one of the two months normally associated with the Christmas buying season gaining 10.9 percent over December of 2009 for a total for the month of $1.55 billion or up $152.8 million.

I don’t recall a month anywhere near this increase for at least the past two years when virtually every month was under the same month a year before. Later in the column, we will try to put this six-month trend in perspective, but December certainly topped any expectations. Read More»

Amendments on Nov. ballot

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Our state and national constitutions are the foundations upon which our government was established. While the Constitution is a blueprint for how the government is organized, it also defines and protects the rights and liberties of individuals. That’s why the process to change the Constitution was made to be so difficult. Proposed changes must pass both the House and Senate by at least a two-thirds vote. The amendments then go to the people who vote to approve or reject the changes. Read More»

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