New year; New legislative session -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

New year; New legislative session

District 153 State Representative Darrel Ealum District 153 State Representative Darrel Ealum

Monday kicked off the one hundred fifty third General Assembly, with issues such as legalizing gambling and overhauling funding for education on the agenda.

While today's session was mainly ceremonial to kick off 2016, Local lawmakers say there are several topics on the table, but education is taking center stage this year.

The  session began with Georgia's own Miss America Betty Cantrell's performance of "Georgia on my mind,"  but according to District 153 State Representative Darrel Ealum,  Education is on their mind. "The Governor is very much wanting to redevelop the formula and redevelop the way the state sends money down to the local districts for individual students."

Ealum says the 35-year-old formula that determines how the Department of Education distributes taxpayers' money to schools has not been fully funded for the past ten years. "Our teachers have not had an appropriate pay raise in at least seven years, so I'm surely hoping that we can get a teacher pay raise passed.

Another bill introduced during last year's session that will be touched on this year,  legalizing pari-mutuel betting, . The bill would dedicate taxes collected from casinos to HOPE scholar­ship.

"I think it's going to be a topic that's heavy on the minds of all Georgians. Do we as the state of Georgia step into this new arena of public betting?" Ealum said.

Ealum also says he hopes to gain support and funding to move the Georgia National Guard to the Marine Base,  a change he believes would not only benefit our region, but the entire state of Georgia.

Governor Nathan Deal will deliver his State of the State message to a joint session of the House and Senate on Wednesday.

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