Looking back at last year, there were many happenings of note, such as Georgia’s selection, for the eighth year in a row, as the number one state to do business—and I am proud to be a small part of it.
Economically, Georgia has done very well during the health crisis. We received $10 billion in new company investments in Georgia. Our state revenue far exceeded the previous level, and we have the highest fund balance by far with over 40 days of revenue in the bank. (During the recession, before I was in the senate, the revenue was down to only one day of state revenue in the bank.)
Through good management and a good market, our teacher’s retirement system has gone from being 76% funded to 92% funded. Some states have only 17% funding—and could regrettably create a deficient that will require significant cuts in benefits in future years.
Our Savannah port has been at a record level and is the second busiest port on the east coast. It continues to set new records. However, in the last year, I saw 22 massive cargo ships eleven miles out at sea waiting to unload. Georgia-made goods were piled up, waiting to be exported. We have seen shipping charges for cargo containers go from $2,000 each to $20,000 per container—whether exporting or importing.
Our biggest challenges will be the supply chain which is preventing companies from receiving needed supplies and equipment and exporting their finished goods. The second most important challenge is for companies to find qualified workers that their businesses need in a thriving economy.
As Finance Chair, it is my committee’s responsibility to bring in revenue to the State of Georgia. And, to approve or disapprove various tax incentives for Georgia companies or those considering a move to Georgia. While I don’t always get my way, I believe Georgia is doing a much better job of evaluating tax incentives.
There has also been much interest in the redistricting and redrawing of the district maps for Georgia’s House of Representatives, State Senate, and the US House of Congress. By law, this must be done every ten years.
The senate districts have the same population requirements. For the 56 Georgia Senate districts, this means we need about 200,000 residents per district. The new congressional district map was signed on December 30th, with the majority of senate district 52 remaining much of the same.
As the 2022 session begins, it is a great time to be in the legislature and I am honored that you have trusted me to represent you in the process and look forward to a prosperous new year.