Georgia House Majority Leader Chuck Efstration delivered a powerful legislative update to Gwinnett Chamber members during its monthly On Topic luncheon presented by Porter Steel. Efstration emphasized education wins, local tax relief, and the strength of Gwinnett’s voice at the state capitol among numerous other policies that legislators championed during the 2023 session.
Rep. Efstration began his remarks with a heartfelt acknowledgement to the late Speaker of the House David Ralston praising him for his legacy of service to Georgia and the Gwinnett community. He also noted that the Georgia House of Representatives started the 2023 session under new leadership with Speaker Jon Burns who was unanimously elected by his peers.
The power of Gwinnett’s voice at the state capitol laid the framework for Efstration’s address. With 21 elected leaders in the House and 9 in the Senate, Gwinnett’s presence accounts for more than ten percent of Georgia’s legislature, making the dynamic metro Atlanta community a powerhouse for pro-business advocacy.
Efstration highlighted several wins during session including some local wins for Gwinnett in getting property tax relief referendums on the ballot that would double the County’s homestead tax exemption and provide an additional $2,000 exemption for veterans and military. He also noted the assembly’s victory in raising the salary for Gwinnett’s Commission Chair post which demands full-time, executive oversight and decision-making for a two-billion-dollar annual budget.
Broader policies passed in the 2023 session included an income tax rebate for Georgians, roughly one-billion dollars in property tax relief grants for local governments to utilize, a gas tax exemption put in place by executive order that was ratified by the assembly this year, and top priority for Efstration, $128 million in funding to the department of education that included teacher salary increases, because “our ability to execute economic development and build thriving communities hinges on the success of our education system,” said Rep. Efstration. Likely the biggest win for education lay in the ability of legislators to restore 100% funding once again for Georgia’s HOPE scholarship program. He further highlighted wins in public safety funding that included grants to schools for safer and more secure campuses, enhanced security of prisons, cold-case research and support, and increases in law enforcement salaries.
Efstration, of course, addressed the electric vehicle (EV) phenomenon and shared bills that had been introduced to regulate charging stations – much like gas stations are regulated now – to support and manage this growing industry in Georgia. He also touched on anti-hate, tenant rights, and mental health legislation discussions that would likely be a part of next year’s agenda.
Most profound was Efstration’s closing comments addressing the federal debt crisis. He outlined Georgia’s constitution which demands legislators to pass a balanced budget every year, giving credit to this best practice for why Georgia remains the top state in which to do business year after year. Conversely, he also pointed out that the lack of this best practice at the federal level is, perhaps, the reason behind the crisis we are in today. Efstration articulated the facts as clear as water. In 200+ years of our nation’s existence, the national debt rose to just over five-trillion dollars. In the last 20 years, that debt has increased five times over to produce a $31.4-trillion deficit.
Efstration thanked the audience for the opportunity to share the latest from Georgia’s state capitol and encouraged Gwinnett Chamber members to continue the organization’s mission to champion business.