I have two young kids, and like every parent I want the best for them — not just the best job opportunities, and not just the best education. I also want them to come home every day happy and safe and proud of what they’ve learned.
Unfortunately, we’ve seen our K-12 budget sink steadily over the past 8 years.
We’ve seen millions siphoned off to private schools at the expense of our public institutions where most students are educated, even when teachers are being furloughed.
And we’ve seen HOPE scholarship cuts that will eventually cost more than they’ve saved. That’s because lower enrollment means fewer degrees, which leads to lower incomes, as well as less tax revenue over each student’s working life – a classic lose-lose situation.
To stop the cycle, we need to first stop the funding leaks. And we need to ensure we’re using best practices with a proven track record of success, like restoring early childhood education to a full school year.
In 2006, when the pharmaceutical giant Novartis chose North Carolina over Athens for their billion-dollar plant, they cited lack of an educated work force as the reason. Things may seem better now, but we are not out of the woods yet.
This may come as a surprise to those who think that creating jobs is as simple as “getting out of the way”. But it doesn’t come as a surprise to me.
As a businessman, I understand that solid companies locate and grow where the government has its act together — where policies favor an even playing field, a pleasant life, public safety, and skilled workers.
Right now, in a recession with unemployment up above 7%, thousands of jobs stand unfilled at high-tech firms, precisely because they can’t find workers with the right kind of training in locations with the right quality of life.
But given our current resources, with the right leadership the 118th District can be that haven for new jobs in the 21st century American economy.
Once upon a time, there was more fresh water in Georgia than the population could possibly use.
Today, we’re in a policy war with Florida and Alabama which has gone all the way to federal court in Washington, because there’s no longer enough. This is the direct and inevitable result of population growth, exploding development, and more frequent and extended droughts.
Our policies and strategies for water management must catch up with the times, because our district’s economy relies on its water supply. Maintaining it depends on:
-Introducing workable conservation measures
-Using best practices for water supply management
-Employing up-to-date water quality standards
-Preventing big business from chemical dumping into our rivers and water supply like the Rayonier plant in the Altamaha.
Water is a public resource, not a commodity. Current policies have us on the path toward rationing. The sooner we change, the better.