Newly elected District 1 state Senator Buddy Carter addressed the Richmond Hill Rotary Club last week. Carter defeated Dr. Billy Hair in the Nov. 3 election to become the successor to Eric Johnson, who resigned in September to run for governor.
Carter answered questions ranging from the state budget to transportation to education to the proposed Liberty County wastewater plant to how he regards Bryan County.
Carter seized 81.74 percent of the Bryan County vote earlier this month, and said this was largely due to those who endorsed him in Bryan.
Carter said one of the main focuses at the state level right now is the budget.
He said revenue figures for October just came in, and they are down about 18 percent from last year.
"But that was expected," Carter said. "In a state budget, it typically lags behind what’s going on with the economy … The downturn in the economy started last August, but we didn’t feel it until December … The first four months of this fiscal year, which began July 1, we’re 15 percent down from where we were a year ago at this time."
Carter said, with a delay like that, "the flip side is also true. When we do see an upturn, it’s going to take 4-5 months to feel the effects."
Carter said the state budget is currently set at $18 billion, which is a $4.2 billion cut from last year. He said it may even be cut back further, maybe as much as an additional $4 billion.
He said among the things on the table for the upcoming legislative sessions, in regard to the budget, are a possible tobacco tax and the potential decrease of the number of days in the school year.
Carter said education accounts for 56 percent of the budget and 80 percent of that goes toward salaries. He said this formula could lead to additional teacher furloughs.
Carter said 25 percent of the budget goes toward health care-related issues, leaving only 20 percent for other expenditures.
-Read more in the Bryan County News.