To my District 24 Friends and Neighbors:

A few quick updates from the Statehouse for you as most of us wrap up spring break. Recently, we passed the state budget — my second state budget as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. Chairing this committee, and writing a budget that balances all of our state’s many needs, is an incredible challenge and honor.

What we did this year was set aside $1.4 billion for direct tax relief, critical investments in our aging infrastructure, and focused efforts on teacher recruitment and retention. The budget shows how we can support education, promote economic growth, and keep our promises to first responders and the people who keep our community safe.

So here are a few highlights:

Championing Fiscal Health and Tax Relief

  • $624 million in new tax relief that includes a $500 million property tax credit for homeowners, which will translate to an average savings of $359 per household.
  • $100 million in additional individual income tax relief as we continue to reduce our state income tax that remains the highest in the Southeast.

Investing in K-12 Schools and Teachers

I have been committed to supporting our public education system since I was first elected to the House in 2005. Since I joined the Ways and Means Committee, we have raised teacher pay by 47% as we work to recruit the best and brightest to our classrooms.

  • $230 million in new money for education, raising per-student funding by $422,
  • raise starting teacher salaries by $4,500 and all teachers an average of $2,800,
  • $40 million for classroom materials,
  • $35 million for school buses, and
  • $20 million for school safety enhancements.

Making Higher Education Accessible

  • We froze in-state tuition at public colleges for the sixth consecutive year, and
  • bolstered our scholarships and grants with more than $336 million allocated towards scholarships and grants.

Supporting Our Heroes

  • Veterans and first responders held a special place in this budget, with $85 million dedicated to healthcare improvements and facilities to honor their service.
  • We also raised salaries of state officers and encouraged local departments to increase their compensation.

Strengthening Critical Infrastructure

Finally, one of the biggest achievements was allocating one-time money to help repair critical infrastructure and keep drivers safe and our economy moving. We added $200 million specifically targeted for bridge improvements after we had to close a critical interstate right before Christmas.

This is just a sampling of what we included in your budget this year. If you want to know more, feel free to email me, or you can look at all of the budget documents and presentations if you wish. I’m committed to making the budget as transparent as possible for everyone in our state.

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