General Assembly decides budget and laws

Elizabeth Montiel-Alvarado, Campus Carrier news editor

The 2023 Georgia General Assembly started on Jan. 9. This is a yearly meeting where the house of representatives and the senate gather to discuss important matters affecting the citizens of Georgia. This includes the annual state budget and any possible laws on a broad range of topics. The legislature convenes for approximately 40 days in late March after much of its business has been completed.

The state’s budget is one of the main concerns for the General Assembly. According to the Georgia Encyclopedia, approximately half of the time spent in session is related to the budget including spending priorities and tax rates. 

“They have a million, billion requests that come in from special interest groups, constituents, districts, from all these different places all vying for access to the revenue and they have to try to meet as many of those requests as they can,” Associate Professor of Political Science and International Affairs Eric Sands said.

Aside from inspecting the requests made, the state legislature must also decide how the budget will affect the citizens and the state. 

“Also, thinking in terms of what’s best for the state: where is that money going to be the most effective, where is it going to help people the most, those kinds of things, so that’s a cumbersome process,” Sands said.

Additionally, as a result of the 2022 Georgia General Assembly, Georgia is proposed to receive $57.9 billion in funding for 2023. This includes state, federal, agency funds, and employee benefit plans. This budget will only now be amended by lawmakers in the current assembly and the 2024 state budget will also be proposed. 

“Keeping track of all the dollars and cents that are going out, that’s a tough thing to do,” Sands said. 

After budgeting discussions, lawmakers must also propose or enact laws on various topics. This includes education, transportation, healthcare, and other state-affecting regulations. Eventually, all bills must be passed by one house of the General Assembly to be considered for crossover day. On this day, a bill must pass out of its original legislative section in order for it to be considered by the other legislative section. If bills are not moved by that day, they will not be considered and will remain in play. 

“It will be interesting to see what bills manage to survive and which ones won’t, because there is a lot of stuff on the agenda,” Sands said. 

Many of the bills that were passed in 2022 were focused on taxes. Especially due to the economic decline and COVID-19 impact, taxes were the main concern for many Georgia residents. 

“Focusing on how to provide tax relief and ease the burden on people’s pocketbooks is something that the General Assembly is going to make a priority,” Sands said. 

Compared to 2022, many of the bills currently being proposed include crime and punishment, health care, and drug use. On, the public is able to access and view the bills in session. These are bills that can directly impact the citizens of Georgia.

“You definitely want to have an awareness of what kinds of issues are before your state legislature and what they are doing,” Sands said. 

With many of the components discussed in the assembly directly affecting citizens, it is important for them to be involved and kept up to date on what is being discussed. 

“The state legislature in many ways affects people’s lives far more than the national legislature does, just in terms of the value of bills that are passed and the kinds of things that are being regulated in people’s lives,” Sands said.

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