Photo by Brian Giandelone
COVINGTON -- Newton County Commissioners joined their counterparts and other county officials from across the state at the 2011 Capitol Connection Conference coordinated by the Association County Commissioners of Georgia.
Gov. Nathan Deal, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, House Speaker David Ralston and other state officials participated in the conference and encouraged a spirit of cooperation in addressing the state budget, transportation, and economic growth.
During the Capitol Connection Conference luncheon, Deal announced changes to the Georgia Transportation Infrastructure Bank to make loans to counties for transportation development more available. Also, Deal spoke of increasing funding support for the Regional Economic Business Assistance grant program and One Georgia Authority to support economic development and attract businesses to Georgia.
"County and state leadership realize that embracing cooperation is necessary to reach common goals and to support the health, safety and welfare of all Georgians," said ACCG Executive Director Ross King. "ACCG is proud to be a conduit in helping bring state and local officials together to achieve these common goals."
In addition to hearing from state leaders, ACCG's Capitol Connection Conference provides an opportunity for county officials to get the latest information on pressing legislative issues. They also have time to meet with state legislators to discuss concerns on specific legislative and budget proposals.
"Issues change daily at the Capitol this time of year," said Kathy Morgan, chairman of the Newton County Board of Commissioners. "Legislation that is passed can have a direct impact on county operations, so it is important for county officials to understand the issues and make sure that our legislative delegation knows the impact that their decisions can have on our community."
ACCG staff briefed county officials on several key legislative initiatives including the sales tax reform proposal developed by the Special Council on Tax Reform and Fairness for Georgians, proposed changes for early voting requirements and changes to immigration laws that could impact county operations. County officials also learned more about how proposed budget cuts in the proposed FY2011 Amended Budget and the FY2012 Budget in agencies such as the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Department of Community Affairs and the Department of Public Health will impact county government.
During the ACCG Capitol Connection Conference, Morgan and Commissioners Lanier Sims and Nancy Schulz also participated in a professional training program offered by ACCG in conjunction with the Carl Vinson Institute of Government at the University of Georgia. Courses featured were Ethics, Financial Management I, Personnel/Human Resources, County Government Law, Advanced Law and Advanced Strategic Planning. In addition, ACCG offered two Standard of Excellence continuing education sessions on the topics of public safety and legislative advocacy.
"The ACCG training program provides me with the tools that I need to be successful in my job and lets me learn from the experiences of my peers," Schulz said. "These courses allow me to focus on one key issue and really learn how to make our county government run more efficiently and effectively."