Valdosta Speaks Out

Many point to health care and education as the issues that matter most to them and their families. Friday some folks got a chance to personally pass along those concerns to members of the Georgia General Assembly visiting in Valdosta.

The Georgia General Assembly has almost reached the halfway mark in this year’s session. Friday, three legislators wanted to hear from their constituents.

Sen. Tim Golden and Rep. Ellis Black and Ron Borders hosted an open forum to get feedback, and found health care to be on the minds of many.

Priscilla Register, a health care advocate, says, "Hopefully they'll look at health care and the info we provided. They'll be able to make a more informed decision."

Educators in attendance at the meeting said they were very concerned about the level of funding the General Assembly may assign to higher education like at Valdosta State. They say if any more cuts are made, it could spell real trouble with Georgia's future.

June Elza of the Association of University Professors says, "We're bleeding now. Eventually we'll bleed to death. The quality of education in Georgia is being threatened. It has been threatened by an unwillingness to fund the programs."

The three lawmakers said they would take these concerns back to the General Assembly with them as well as several others.

Sen. Tim Golden says, "From the sales tax holiday to trying to give tax breaks to businesses to working on budget items which effect health care, and just so many issues that impact the community in which we live."

They are issues which could have a major impact on the region for years to come.

There is no firm ending date for Georgia's General Assembly, but lawmakers hope to wrap up business by the end of next month.

The Florida Legislature will convene its 2005 session March 8.