Governor Perdue Exhorts Legislators To Act Responsibly, Take Decisive Actions On Final Day of Regular Legislative Session
|Wednesday, April 23, 2003||
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Atlanta - With the 39th day of Georgia's 40-day legislative session past, Governor Sonny Perdue today offered a charge to state legislators to act on several pieces of key legislation important to Georgia's citizens. Below are excerpts from Governor Perdue's prepared remarks (please note that Governor Perdue may deviate from his prepared remarks):
Good afternoon. Day 39 has come and gone in Georgia's first legislative session with a two-party system.
This General Assembly has been different from any session in memory. It has been characterized by what has not happened. For example, there isn't a small group of leaders meeting in a backroom to set the agenda and determine the outcome.
Instead we've got a true competition of ideas. It is a more open process, which I believe in the long run will be a healthier process and better for Georgia.
But that also means democracy isn't neat and tidy and predictable. Real debate and a true deliberative process are painstakingly time-consuming. One result of a truly competitive process is the bar gets raised higher for legislation to reach final passage.
That's okay. I'm not one who measures the success of a legislative session by the sheer volume of bills passed.
Georgians will judge the success of this legislative session and General Assembly by whether it meets its constitutional obligation to pass a balanced budget and whether it acts on issues important to the people, like ethics and education. So far, on Day 39, that hasn't happened.
I submitted my budget on January 15, 2003. The House failed to act until late on Day 33. As of today, we still don't have a budget.
I submitted strong ethics legislation, which the Senate passed. This legislation has languished in the House. Gamesmanship has been the order of the day and nothing has been accomplished. And for Georgians, "Ethics Lite" is not acceptable.
We developed a meaningful education reform package with the help of teachers, superintendents, principals, and parents. Our education legislation is also languishing in the House.
We've got one day of session left to get these things done. These are my priorities because they are the people's priorities.
Although it has not been part of my core agenda, we need resolution on the state flag. This issue has dragged on too long and it is interfering with our true priorities. Let's get a resolution, put it before the people and get it behind us so we can join together and move our state forward.
I recognize that it's a lot to get done in one day. But, this session has already lasted so long we're into baseball season.
And, like a baseball game - it isn't over until the last pitch is thrown in the bottom of the ninth inning. There is still time for legislators to act responsibly and come to agreement on these issues.
But, also like a baseball game, if we don't get resolution in the ninth inning, we'll go to a 10th inning.
Georgia must have a balanced, responsible budget in place by June 30.
If that isn't done by Day 40, I will call a special session to produce such a budget.
And, if a special session is necessary, I will not allow the General Assembly to duck its responsibility to act on the other important priorities I've mentioned. Ethics reform, education, and very possibly other issues, will be included.
We're all ready for the legislative session to end. None of us wants extra innings in this session.
I know that travel plans and vacations are in limbo, work is stacking up in legislators' private businesses and other personal matters are on hold while this session drags on.
But, make no mistake, we were elected to be stewards of the public trust and the people's business comes first. And, we'll stay here or come back until we get the job done.