James.qxp Jan Feb 2019 web - Page 23

“This year and next year look great, but at some point
economists have warned that we could see another
recession. So the new governor says, “We have to plan for
that now. That’s where I will count on my experience in
the legislature, in the private sector and in the secretary of
state’s office where we had to face drastic budget cuts.”
By the way, he notes, “Governor (Nathan) Deal has
done a great job building our reserve fund and
maintaining our Triple A bond rating.”
Kemp says he also looks forward to working with
Speaker (David) Ralston and the House Rural
Development Council to strengthen rural Georgia through
legislative action. He referred to an important aspect of
his healthcare plan— raising the tax credit for rural
hospitals from $60 million to $100 million— something he
plans to work on with new Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan.
Interestingly, the House Rural Development Council
released its recommendations recently, and the plan
includes a proposal to increase that cap to $100 million.
The new governor plans to work to lower insurance
costs, ensure access to quality care, expand insurance
options, cover those with pre-existing conditions, and
spur innovation to address systematic healthcare
challenges in the state. As a small business owner and
entrepreneur, he supports association health plans
which allow Georgia companies to link together and
offer better coverage with competitive rates to their
employees and families. He asserted that market forces
would ultimately drive down costs.
“We must have more providers in the marketplace to
give Georgians more choices to help lower costs on
individual health care plans. This is something we will
definitely be working on,” he emphasizes.
“Stop and Dismantle” includes launching a public
awareness campaign; funding the criminal street gang
database; working with the attorney general to prosecute
gang cases; and creating a ‘gang strike team’— a
specially formed task force that could reach across county
lines to aid communities not equipped to face gang
violence head on.
“This is something we have to move the needle on,”
says Kemp. “We have kids across the state who are
being sucked into gangs because of money and other
reasons. Many of these kids believe this is their only
option. We have to change this narrative at the
community level, and let these kids know they are
being sucked into a system that is not viable long-term,
and one that could end their life early, or end up with
them going to prison. We have to let them know there
are better choices.”
Kemp points to a “robust plan” for education, which
includes an emphasis on early children’s literacy, teacher
recruitment and retainment and a proposed $5,000
annual pay raise for Georgia’s public school teachers.
“Forty-four percent of our teachers are leaving after
the first five years, and that’s hurting our schools —
especially in rural Georgia where it is hard to recruit,”
Kemp says. “This is an investment in our educators. It’s
an investment in our future. In addition to a welldeserved pay raise, I’ll work to lift the burdensome
mandates on the backs of our teachers. We will support
Georgia teachers and let our local heroes inspire, guide,
and of course – teach— our children.”
Kemp emphatically adds “and once and for all, do
away with Common Core.”
Among his priorities in education, Kemp wants to:
Public safety reform is another area of Kemp focus.
“I believe the majority of people in this state want to
keep their families safe, and that this is something we
can all agree on. Going after street gangs and drug
cartels has always been a priority. It’s a problem in
Georgia and we have a plan that goes after the street
gangs and drug cartels.”
During his campaign, Kemp unveiled his new plan to
curb street gang violence. He was joined by Cobb District
Attorney Vic Reynolds, a longtime vocal leader in
promoting anti-gang legislation and for prosecuting gang
members and their crimes. Kemp says his four-step ‘Stop
and Dismantle’ plan is based on the work Reynolds has
done locally but “will provide the resources statewide.”
“We have had a street gang database for eight years
that has never been funded,” Kemp says. “We need to
make sure this is funded and implemented.”
“I want to be a local control governor who will have a
bottom up approach, not top down, working with local
boards and superintendents. I want to listen to them and
be a partner with them as they face the challenges locally.”
Stating that his education plan “builds on the
successes of our past governors,” Kemp also stresses the
importance of tackling childhood literacy.
“Under the leadership of Gov. Nathan Deal and First
Lady Sandra Deal, we have made progress. And as
governor I will make early learning a priority. That starts
with backing the goal of increasing the number of Quality
Rated Childcare Centers in Georgia.”
Kemp and new Lt. Gov. Duncan have unveiled a
“three-pronged” approach addressing school safety,
including placing a school counselor in all 343 state
public high schools; one-time funding for schools to
spend as they see fit for school safety (such as a school
police officer; cameras or metal detectors; or operational
expenses such as data analytics); and a school safety
division within the Georgia Department of Education.
“This is another campaign promise that we are
actively working on to implement this legislative
session,” said Kemp. “We have a simple, well-thought out
plan that builds on the work Governor Deal and state
legislators have already begun.”
One part of the plan is to fund a counselor position in
every school who Kemp believes will take the burden off
teachers and administrators. These support counselors
will be tasked with assisting and guiding students
battling mental-health issues, opioid abuse, violence in
the home or bullying. In addition, they would work to
improve graduation rates by connecting students’
families with academic resources and services.
• Reduce the number and impact of standardized
tests by adopting the federal testing minimum
allowed by ESSA;
• Support the State School Superintendent through
the 2020 standards review and validation process
and urge the State School Board to adopt revised
• Embrace local control and reduce state mandates
in education;
The new governor recognizes that the November
election was polarizing among Georgia voters, but he is
asking for the state to unite as he moves into his new
role. How will this occur? Again, he says, “By
implementing things I campaigned on.”
“I now have a great opportunity to do the things I
believe will be good for our state, for our families— and
this all goes back to our Four Point plan. I am a hardworking Georgian and I believe that if our administration
works hard for all Georgians— Republicans, Democrats,
or in-between— we can give them the opportunity to see
that I am working to put all Georgians first. Maybe they
will take notice of that, and if they didn’t vote for me the
first time, they might vote for me four years from now.”
• Respect and value teachers’ time by reducing
paperwork, unpaid duties, and micromanagement
so they can actually teach.
Cindy Morley is a staff writer for James and InsiderAdvantage.


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