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From the Desk of Rep. Jim Cole – Legislative Update as of March 2

Dear Friend, During these trying economic times, we all live on a fixed budget. Legislators must consider the long-term effects of every dollar we spend in order to get the best value for Georgia’s taxpayers. Sometimes that means spending a little more now in order to save much more in the future. With all of this in mind, the state House passed two bills last week that may be of interest to you: Senate Bill 31, energy financing legislation, and House Bill 118, the 2009 Amended Budget. Energy needs have been an increasing concern to Georgians over the past several years. According to the 2006 State Energy Strategy Report, Georgia’s demand for electricity grew 61 percent from 1990 to 2004. In addition, the report estimates that Georgia will sustain an annual growth rate of three percent over the next few years. Nuclear energy has operated safely and securely in Georgia since 1975 and currently provides more than twenty percent of the state’s electricity. Nuclear power is a safe, clean, and affordable source of base load electricity that produces zero emissions. For these reasons, the House passed a bill last week that addresses how to finance the construction of two additional nuclear reactors to Plant Vogtle in Burke County, Georgia. Senate Bill 31 will lower the overall cost of the project, which will lead to lower rate charges for consumers. Failure to pass SB 31 would have cost Georgians an additional $300 million in interest alone. By paying a slight increase in cost now, we will ultimately lower our costs in the future. As a result of the struggling economy, the state faced a $2.2 billion shortfall. After months of hard work by the House Appropriations Committee, the House passed a fiscally sound budget that meets our state’s critical needs. The 2009 Amended Budget fully funds the Homeowner Tax Relief Grants, which bring an average savings of $200-300 for every homeowner in Georgia. This budget also funds education, maintains funding for GBI crime labs, restores funding to Meals on Wheels, and expands state health services. The decisions made at the State Capitol affect all Georgians, especially during the tough times we are all facing. Your opinions and concerns are very important to me and I consider it an honor to serve you. Should you have any questions or concerns, please contact me at my Capitol office @ 404-651-7737 or via e-mail I look forward to hearing from you soon. Representative Jim Cole

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