James Magazine Mar Apr 2020 - Page 39



SEC0ND YEAR INITIATIVES
FIRST YEAR INITIATIVES
“Some of our initiatives for year one included going
after street gangs, our education platform, healthcare
proposals and standing up for conservative values with
the heartbeat bill,” Kemp reflected. “We had a historic
session for education last year with the school security
grants and teacher pay raises— which are two things I
promised during the campaign. We got ridiculed a little
on the campaign trail with people saying that I’d never
fulfill those promises. But we accomplished those two
goals. (Kemp hopes to include another $2,000 pay hike
for teachers this year, which would be coupled with
the $3,000 raise they received last year.)
Kemp says the teacher pay raises aren’t the only
focus on education reform. “We rolled out legislation
that deals with too much testing in our schools. We
heard from parents, teachers and others that
students were literally getting sick to their stomachs
because of the stress of too much testing. We are
going to do something about that.” And he also
emphasizes that he is “working to end Common
Core” and ensuring that Georgia has the right
curriculum in the schools.
Kemp says Georgia also had a historic session last
year by passing over 20 healthcare-related bills. They
included “taking on an antiquated CON (Certificate of
Need) system, passing transparency legislation,
opening up additional cancer treatment centers for
hardworking Georgians and passing the Patient’s
First Act which allows us to work with President
Trump’s administration on waivers for Medicaid and
to end Obamacare.”
“We still have a lot of work left to do in the area of
healthcare, but that was a huge first step,” Kemp said.
“We are currently working with members of the
legislature on ways to address surprise medical billing.”
Furthermore, the Kemp administration continues
to work with federal officials on obtaining Medicaid
waivers. “They seem very excited about our
proposal,” he said. “There are a lot of things they
want states to do like going around the
healthcare.gov website which was a disaster, to
allow the private sector to take the place of that, to
offer several different plans and services, and really
allow things like employers contributing to their
employees’ healthcare plans which Obamacare
prohibits. We have young couples paying $800 a
month, $400 a person each month for an Obamacare
plan and that’s just not affordable insurance.”
Moving into his second year, Kemp said Georgia
will continue to go after street gangs and drug cartels.
“The task force is coming off a great year,” he said,
“and has been overwhelmed with responses from the
local circuits of people wanting to work with the state
in this fight. We will continue to provide that service to
them and part of that includes getting the state’s
database up and running.” State officials are also
working on two additional pieces of legislation to put
more teeth into state anti-gang statutes.
Kemp says the state will focus on narcotics, adding
that the Mexican drug cartel is controlling the flow of
illegal narcotics in the state which has been tied
directly to human sex trafficking.
“Our First Lady Marty Kemp has done as much as
anybody in the country, other than maybe Ivanka Trump
and the president, to raise awareness of human
trafficking. The GRACE Commission she started with
(House Speaker) Pro Tem Jan Jones, GBI Director Vic
Reynolds and Attorney General Chris Carr is moving the
needle in raising awareness of human trafficking. They
have new legislation this session to put more teeth in
the statute— not only to go after the perpetrators, but
also to work with the victims to make sure that they can
get the services and help they need to be able to reenter society and trust society again.”
“It’s hard to do everything in the first year, but we
did a lot more than some people thought we would,”
said Kemp. “We got the heartbeat bill done, but part of
what I wanted to do was protect life at all stages.
That’s really what our values are in this state. That’s
why this year we are looking at foster care adoption
reform— building on what was started two years ago.”
There is a bill this year to do just that— raising the tax
credit from $2,000 to $6,000 to make it more affordable,
lowering the age from 25 to 21 to allow for more
parental adoptions, and reducing some of the
“ridiculous regulations and red tape.”
THE BUDGET AND PRI0RITIES
38
JAMES
MARCH/APRIL 2020
Last year the governor ordered some state agencies
to cut 4 percent from their budgets for this fiscal year.
(Money going to k-12 schools, colleges, Medicaid and
transportation were exempted.) Naturally, reductions to
the $28 million state budget spark controversy. That’s
why I asked the governor about his relationship with
Speaker of the House David Ralston and Lt. Gov. Geoff
Duncan who presides over the Senate.
“It’s been great,” he replied. “But this year is more
challenging because of the budget environment. My
mantra is for us to make government smaller and more
continued on page 40
MARCH/APRIL 2020
39

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