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The 2022 Georgia General Assembly began today under the Gold Dome in Atlanta, but before local legislators packed their bags for the nearly 3-month session, the Greater Vidalia Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual Legislative luncheon last Thursday to give constituents of Senator Blake Tillery and Representative Leesa Hagan an opportunity to hear what the pair expect during the term.

Sen. Tillery, who has served for District 19 since January 2017, said Governor Brian Kemp will most likely reveal what the state’s budget for 2022 will be within days of the session beginning, and then it will be up to legislators to decide how to appropriate funding.

“We just want to make sure we use that money in the best way possible for the people of Georgia,” Sen. Tillery said.

Relating to budgetary items, the Senator who hails from Toombs County said he is concerned about the entry level salary for Correctional Officers and with so many prisons with open positions available, he would like to see a better paycheck for those who apply.

“First, I think it’s a travesty that we have to have so many working in our prisons, but we do,” he said. “I would just like to see that those men and women who are willing to put their lives on the line receive what they deserve while making a living for themselves and their families.”

Of a personal interest to the Senator is the plight of children in the foster care system in the state,

“As a Christians, we are told to take care of the widows and orphans,” Sen. Tillery said. “I believe that is the role of both Christians and the government. We need to work to get the number of children in the system lower, but we also need to make sure that these children know they are loved and do whatever we can to ensure they have a good life.”

In the past years, the number of children in the system has declined from around 15,000 to 11,000.

“That’s great,” he said, “but we still have work to do.”

Sen. Tillery serves as the Chair of the Appropriations Committee, Vice Chair of the State Institutions and Property Committee, and Secretary for the Judiciary Committee as well as other positions.

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