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January 19--  The one thing the Georgia General Assembly must do is pass a balanced budget and that work has begun according to State Representative Greg Morris of Vidalia.

"I think the budget is sound overall.  That's what we've been doing this week is taking a look at the mid-year budget and the 2018 budget.  The official budget starts in the House and that's where the focus has been," Morris reports.

Governor Deal is proposing a $25 billion budget which includes a two percent pay raise for teachers and state employees.

Representative Morris says the state's economy overall is in good shape and that is reflected in the budget.

"Georgia's economy continues to grow at a steady rate.  Four percent growth is what we're putting in the upcoming budget the governor has proposed.  The budget has no tax increases, it's balanced and limits debt and preserves our Triple-A bond rating.  Georgia is in a very good position economically as a whole.  There are some rural areas of the state which haven't grown and hopefully we can work on some of those issues, but overall, the economic condition of the state is positive," he says.

Representative Morris believes the new session of the General Assembly will include some issues which didn't make it last year including medical marijuana, religious freedom laws and casino gambling.

He and other lawmakers are waiting on the Governor to initiate some action regarding failing schools following last Fall's rejection by voters of a constitutional amendment which would have allowed the state to take over troubled schools.

"Of course he is disappointed that his plan didn't pass.  We don't have the details of his "Plan B," but it's going to be a legislative solution, not a constitutional solution.  He mentioned in his "State of the State" address  that there are more troubled schools than before on the list and they are primarily growing in the elementary schools across different parts of the state.  So the problem hasn't gone away, but we don't have specifics on what he intends to do," Morris stated.