The need for broadband connectivity is at the forefront of needs across the state especially since the onset of the pandemic. Jones County is no different with large areas having inadequate and even no internet service. What is your plan to utilize state and other resources to help?
We have made great strides in this area, passing a number of bills, and I know we will continue to do so until this issue is handled. Unfortunately, we cannot always act as quickly as we would like because it takes a while to study the issue, introduce, pass legislation, and then wait on regulatory agencies to set their rules. Last year, we did pass legislation that allows local authorities to get involved with their preferred providers to work on expansion opportunities. There are also several grant opportunities to assist with funding. I am pleased with the strong efforts and support towards this initiative as the entire General Assembly agrees that everyone should have adequate access to broadband. I am passionate about this issue and welcome any and every idea where rural broadband is concerned.
The Hope Scholarship has helped thousands of Georgia students attend college since its creation in 1993, but it has undergone changes and challenges over the years. Are you a supporter of the scholarship, and, if so, what will you do to ensure that it is there for students for years to come.
I am in great support of this program as I truly believe this is why we have seen our Georgia Colleges and Universities become some of the most competitive schools in the nation. Preserving the scholarship really comes down to our conservative approach to budgeting. We have zero based budgeting in GA, which means we go through certain aspects of the budget, starting from scratch, every year. This has been a tremendous help in assisting us gauge where we are from a HOPE scholarship standpoint, and how to keep it active. Education is the bedrock of our economy - if we don’t have a qualified workforce, we cannot get companies or small business owners to bring their businesses to our state. 3
What will you do to raise teacher salaries and strengthen teacher preparation?
I am a huge advocate for teachers and have supported every raise brought forth during my time in office. I do believe that we must allow our teachers to actually teach. They have been so burdened with over regulation and requirements, that they no longer have time to use their creativity in determining the best way to reach individual students. One size does not fit all - especially when it comes to education.
What are your thoughts about home rule for cities and counties, particularly considering the different needs of rural counties versus more densely populated cities during the pandemic?
I have always been extremely passionate and in favor of LOCAL CONTROL and personal responsibility. This decision should be left up to local leaders. Bureaucrats in Atlanta DO NOT know what is best for each individual community in our state. Especially under the circumstances of what we have experienced this year.
What are your thoughts on evaluating school performance and state accountability (CCRPI)? Specifically, what are your thoughts about assessment/testing in our public schools?
I do believe that there must be some type of measurement in place to determine where we are on education as compared to other regions of the state, as well as, on the national level. However, too much emphasis has been placed on “testing.” I would love to see the introduction of a hybrid method where testing is part of the process, but not the final determination.
What is your opinion of the value an education in the arts (dance, drama/theatre, music, visual arts) provides students?
These programs are vital to the health and well being of any child. This is where you see children blossom. These programs help development, social anxiety, and give our children an outlet to express themselves in a productive way. I have and will work to protect these programs as I believe they play a large role in preparing our kids for the future.
Online purchases are at an all time high. Should the taxes on those sales be based on the address of the store or the purchaser? Why?
This is tricky because I am always going to be in favor of the lower tax. If a person lives in Jones County, where the tax rate on a purchase is 7%; then that citizen should not have to pay the 7.75% for a business located in Fulton County.
Healthcare is a huge talking point in elections across the nation, but it is literally a life and death issue in rural counties. What is your plan to improve the availability of healthcare for constituents in the rural counties you serve?
I am pleased to say that we have been working on this issue for several years and we are making movement. We have allotted tax breaks and given incentives to physicians and medical staff, willing to service rural areas; we have passed numerous bills which allows for the usage of telemedicine; we have also lifted regulations on certain licensing requirements where reciprocity (of certain fields) can occur between other states; we have worked hard to expand the scope of practice for RN’s and pharmacists, allowing them the ability to vaccinate, and administer other medical needs. We will continue to look for options to further healthcare access, as this is a huge priority.