As a newly elected member of your Georgia General Assembly, I am honored to serve you in the Georgia House of Representatives. This past year with a world-wide pandemic, a national presidential election, and change in leadership in the U.S. Senate, we will see major issues coming through the Georgia General Assembly. These issues will have a major impact on us in Georgia and in the greater Savannah area. First, with dealing with Covid-19 virus, we will see a federal administration that has talked about national shutdowns of business to control the spread, a national facemask mandate, and the distribution of vaccines. Some of these issues will be federally mandated solutions but some of the issues will be left to the individual states for administration. In these instances, I feel that we in Savannah have been careful with the virus, but we can do better. We must expand the vaccine recipient list to include many of our seniors, especially in our lower-income neighborhoods, to be able to get the vaccine sooner than later. We in the African American community suffer from pre-existing conditions that make this virus much more deadly, than in other communities. Rest assured, I will support any issue that leads to better healthcare for our communities.
Some of the other issues I know that are important for Savannah include expanding access to mental health services by restoring funding to the department of behavioral health. The cuts were implemented because of Covid-19 loss of state revenues due to business shutdowns but the result has left us with more homeless individuals and families, less treatment opportunities for those suffering from mental health issues exacerbated by the virus, and a general deterioration of our society. This can be fixed by dedicating more funds for mental health agencies including Georgia Regional Hospital that is the state behavioral health and developmental disabilities hospital for the coastal region including Savannah.
I will also be advocating for pandemic funding relief by holding school systems harmless for temporary drops in enrollment on full time equivalent students being reported during the fiscal year 2021 year for the purposes of determining the funding allotments for FY 2022-23. Our school system in Savannah is the main educational avenue for our children and has the greatest impact for us in minority neighborhoods who send most of our children to public schools. We cannot afford to lose a generation of children because of funding cuts due to the virus that have eliminated in-class teaching and requires some families to decide whether to send parents to work while their children stay at home and try to learn virtually.
One other issue of great importance for us is passing legislation for a state-level Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), the Georgia Work Credit, which would reduce the amount of income tax owed by low- and middle-income families. Nobody likes paying taxes on income earned by working, but the current state EITC is woefully inadequate for many of us in Savannah where we have a poverty rate around 26 percent.
As a freshman legislator, I will not receive my committees and office contact information until this coming week, and I will report to you the best way to contact me next week. Until then, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your concerns and issues. Once again, I am honored to serve you and never hesitate to reach out to me with your issues.