House Democrats on Thursday introduced a package of 26 bills they said will offer common sense solutions for “educational opportunity, economic security and shared responsibility for all Georgians.”
The minority party’s leaders said at a Capitol press conference that the proposals, some already filed and others to be introduced after the legislative recess next week, tackle a range of issues, from fully funding Hope scholarships for all recipients to limiting the use of credit checks for employment and using technology to allow voting at any precinct.
Transportation funding conspicuously was not included. Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, D-Atlanta, chuckled at a question regarding the belief around the Capitol that the Democrats will hold the key to any plan to raise taxes for transportation, “it’s nice to be so very popular.”
While Gov. Nathan Deal, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and House Speaker David Ralston have all backed the need for increased funding for roads and bridges, conservative Republicans are likely to resist tax increases.
Abrams said that the Democrats would play an active role in transportation discussions, with funding transit a key objective. She said the Democrats would not only seek state funding for MARTA but for all of the 128 jurisdictions around Georgia providing transit, including paratransit for hospitals. “It can’t just be about metro Atlanta,” she said. “There needs to be a broader conversation.”
In regard to Gov. Nathan Deal’s plan to propose a constitutional amendment to allow the state to take over failing schools, Abrams said the Democrats “will listen and give it really careful consideration. We believe in local control of schools, and anything that would interfere with that needs to be really carefully considered.”
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