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Greg and BlakeJanuary 10-- A record crowd was on hand for the annual legislative luncheon put on by the Toombs-Montgomery Chamber of Commerce Thursday at the First Baptist Church in Lyons. Approximately 175 were in attendance to hear State Representative Greg Morris and State Senator Blake Tillery give their take on the upcoming legislative session and answer questions.

Among issues like healthcare costs, school funding, and dual enrollment for high school students, the two issues that stood out were the budget and the upcoming census.

Representative Morris said, “I haven’t seen a budget or a situation like this. The economy is doing well but our revenues are down. Almost everybody that wants to work is working but yet the state continues to grow and that’s the dilemma. More students, more needs.”

Senator Tillery stated, “The budget last year was predicated on 2.3% growth and we’re only growing at .2%.   Some people in the audience, like me when I run my business, are wondering why in the heck you are predicating business on growth. There’s one reason, educational cost. We have to fund K-12 and we’re still growing in the number of students. And education is 80% of our budget.”

And on the topic of the upcoming census, Representative Morris stated, “It is terribly important that we participate because that will determine our amount of representation, particularly in rural Georgia.”

Senator Tillery added, “Do you think the folks in Smyrna think like the folks in Johnson Corner? No. Every ten years we count the population and have to redistribute the seats of the State House, the State Senate, and Congress by law. So in 2010 every Senate district had roughly 177,000 people. That 177,000 in our area equaled 9 counties and 2 partial counties. Eleven counties. That 177,000 people in Smyrna is about 11 neighborhoods.”

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