Opinion: My first 100 days as Ga.’s governor

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On the campaign trail, I promised to champion policies that put hardworking Georgians first. During the first 100 days of my time as Georgia’s 83rd governor, that’s exactly what we have done.

Just moments after taking the oath of office, I signed an executive order creating the Georgians First Commission. While I’m proud of Georgia’s ranking as a top state for business, there are small businesses throughout our state struggling to operate, expand, and prosper. The Georgians First Commission will partner with the legislature to eliminate anti-business rules, taxes, and fees. Our goal is clear: To make Georgia #1 for small business.

During the legislative session, we passed two balanced budgets that reflect our values as a state and showcase our priorities for Georgia’s future.

The Amended 2019 Budget invested $69 million in security upgrades at all 2,292 schools in our state. By providing one-time, $30,000 grants, local leaders can determine the most effective way to keep students safe in the classroom.

In addition to upgrading security, the amended budget for 2019 doubles funding for mental health services in Georgia schools. These two budget items will ensure a safe and effective learning environment – no matter your zip code.

To keep our communities safe, we created a Gang Taskforce within the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Led by gang prosecutor Jaret Usher, this highly specialized team will work with federal, state, and local law enforcement to stop gang violence and dismantle organized criminal networks.

Six months ago, Hurricane Michael ripped through parts of Southwest Georgia – destroying farms and agri-businesses. I am proud of the legislature for including additional relief funding for storm victims while we wait for Congress to act. We refuse to sit idly when hardworking Georgians need our help.

The 2020 budget fully funds public school education. To help retain the best and brightest, the budget boasts historic pay raises for Georgia teachers, counselors, and specialists. We also included a well-deserved pay raise for bus drivers, custodians, and cafeteria workers.

During the 2019 Legislative session, I was proud to partner with lawmakers to pass the Patients First Act. This legislation paves the way for state leaders to craft innovative flexibility options that help lower healthcare premiums, enhance accessibility, and ensure quality outcomes in every part of our state.

I was also proud to champion a carefully crafted, balanced bill that helps patients with chronic, debilitating diseases to get the medicine they so desperately need. House Bill 324 expands access to low-THC oil without opening the door to recreational drug use.

While Georgia is known as a hub for economic growth and home to key industries like cyber, aerospace, and agriculture, we are sadly a haven for human trafficking. My wife Marty and I launched the GRACE Commission to help combat modern-day slavery and worked with the legislature to pass several bills that will help prosecute those who are turning innocent children into profit. Thanks to partnerships with government and private sector leaders, we will end sex trafficking in Georgia.

We are blessed to live in a state that values life. That’s why I am proud to support the LIFE Act, which protects the innocent unborn and ensures that all Georgians have the opportunity to live, grow, and prosper. I look forward to signing this bill and working next year to advance our pro-life agenda by reforming foster care and the adoptions process in Georgia.

While we accomplished a lot during the first 100 days of my term, this is just the beginning.

Our economy is outperforming the nation, but we are just getting started. Georgia’s future is bright, but we can’t stop choppin’!

It’s time to double down on our efforts to put hardworking Georgians – not politics – first. Together, we can ensure that the next 100 days are even better than the first.

Brian P. Kemp is Georgia’s governor.

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