News 12 at 6 o'clock / Thursday, May 3, 2012
EVANS, Ga. -- The economy and the future of Georgia were two of the big topics at a legislative breakfast hosted by the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce Thursday morning.
State lawmakers were there and seem to be optimistic. Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle says the pendulum is swinging back in our direction.
"This is an opportunity for the business community to learn a little bit about what's happening at the state level," said Rick Toole, the president of W.R. Toole Engineers.
Rep. Barbara Sims says the rainy day fund now has a balance of $328 million, which is up 35 percent from last year.
"We're seeing the beginning of Georgia emerging from this long period of economic recession," Sen. Jesse Stone told the crowd.
Cagle said the biggest victory they had this session was centered around jobs.
"We've really got to stick to the fundamentals, keep doing the things and investing in the things that we know work," he said.
Rep. Lee Anderson said they need to get behind the TSPLOST and then explain it to the people.
"It gives our people the freedom to choose," Anderson said.
Toole said the TSPLOST is more of "an investment than a tax."
Rep. Harbin talked about deepening the Savannah Port and what this could mean for roads statewide.
"When those ships start coming in from Panama -- that are larger than we've ever seen -- they're going to bring in a lot of product, and we have to have the infrastructure to move that product throughout the state and bring those jobs here," he said.
That TSPLOST vote will be on July 31.
Each of the lawmakers also mentioned new legislation they are excited about including the metal theft law, energy tax initiative to encourage manufacturing, the phasing out of the birthday car tax, welfare drug testing and the criminal justice reform bill.
Sen. Bill Jackson also took the chance to announce he is running for re-election.