Deal introduces updates to tax code legislation

News, Police & Government

Gov. Nathan Deal, along with Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and House Speaker David Ralston, today outlined updates to HB 918, which addresses state tax code. The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Chuck Efstration, now combines the 2017 Internal Revenue Code (IRC) bill, HB 821, with 2018 IRC updates. It also addresses the state revenue projections resulting from the Federal Tax Act.

HB 918 would double the standard deduction for Georgia taxpayers for all filing statuses, effective Jan. 1, 2018. It would also reduce the income tax rate for individuals and businesses from 6 percent to 5.75 percent effective Jan. 1, 2019. Finally, the legislation includes a provision further reducing the tax rate to 5.5 percent, effective Jan. 1, 2020. This reduction would require approval of the General Assembly and signature of the governor in order to take effect.

The bill will also help our state be more competitive by eliminating the sales tax on jet fuel, which will encourage airlines to fly additional direct flights from Georgia to destinations around the globe.

“Taxpayers have already started to experience the positive effects of federal tax reform here in Georgia and throughout the country,” said Deal. “Our state is also projected to benefit significantly in the coming years. The legislation presented today is a result of ongoing dialogue between House and Senate leadership and addresses Georgia’s projected windfall while balancing the state’s fiscal health and protecting our AAA bond rating.

“This bill keeps more of taxpayers’ hard-earned money in their pockets by doubling the standard deduction and reducing income tax rates. It will save taxpayers more than $5 billion over the next five years. Doubling the standard deduction will also allow Georgia filers to take fuller advantage of the newly enhanced federal standard deduction. Further, these combined changes mark one of the biggest income tax cuts in state history, and does so in a fiscally responsible manner. The standard deduction was last increased in 1981. The individual rate was set at 6 percent in 1937 and has not changed since, while the corporate rate has also remained at 6 percent since 1969. I’m confident HB 918 will be passed by the General Assembly quickly and immediately transmitted to my desk. The sooner I sign this landmark reform legislation, the sooner taxpayers may file.”

“This historic tax cut lowers Georgia’s income tax rate for the first time ever, returning significant savings to millions of families across our state,” said Cagle. “Most importantly, this framework sets the stage for continued reductions – building on the Trump administration’s tax reform to allow Georgians to keep more of what they earn.”

“I am committed to keeping the tax burden on Georgians as low as possible,” said Ralston. “This measure is yet another example of the General Assembly working with Governor Deal to empower families to save more of their money. I appreciate the Governor’s leadership and the cooperation between the House and the Senate in developing this income tax cut legislation. I look forward to it moving quickly through the legislative process.”


BKP Interviews Georgia House Speaker David Ralston

State & National

On FYN TV, BKP interviews Georgia’s Speaker of the House for District-7 Representative David Ralston, as they discuss Georgia’s aggressive plan for a large infrastructure investment that was presented and highlighted at a meeting for Republican leaders including Ralston, over the weekend at The White House. Speaker David Ralston comments on what that means for Georgia.

Pictured below: Speaker of the House for Georgia District 7 David Ralston at this past weekends Infrastructure Meeting at the White House with Republican leaders and President Donald Trump.

David Ralston Talks Education and Politics in Ellijay

David Ralston visits the Ellijay Church of Christ to speak with the Retired Teacher's Group of Gilmer

ELLIJAY, GA – Georgia Speaker of the House David Ralston visited Ellijay on Wednesday, September 13, to speak with the Retired Teachers Association.

Before holding a regular meeting, the Association received Ralston with a lunch reception and a meet and greet with the members. As he began his remarks, Ralston noted he was returning to the capital the same day to continue working through Georgia’s recovery of Hurricane Irma.

Speaker David Ralston offers comments to the Gilmer Retired Teachers Group about the State's progress in Education and Growth.

Speaker David Ralston offers comments to the Gilmer Retired Teachers Group about the State’s progress in Education and Growth.

Taking a moment to recognize those involved, Ralston praised workers and volunteers who continue to clean up and restore Georgia in the aftermath. “I have never been prouder of the response that our state has had to what has been a tremendous storm. Hurricane Irma has really brought a lot of destruction to our state,” said Ralston.

Ralston continued his remarks speaking on the state’s budget. He said, “I tell people, there is only one thing we have to do every legislative session, and that’s pass a budget. We have passed a balanced budget in Georgia with no tax increases for the seven years that I have been honored to hold this position.”

Saying they had managed this in a conservative and responsible way, Ralston continued telling those in attendance the number one spending item in the budget every year is Education. According to the Speaker, last years $24.9 billion budget held 62% of new revenue budgeted for K-12 Education. This included $162 million for a 2% adjustment to state teachers salary.

The Teachers Retirement System (TRS), holding 218,000 active members and 118,000 retired members, was a focus of Ralston as he spoke about strengthening the system, protecting pensions against ideas of certain candidates for governor, and maintaining his “covenant” with teachers for their future and the future of their careers. Continuing in the financial aspect of education, Ralston commented, “I insist on a very strict actuarial study of what works and what don’t, between what is sound and what is not.”

The Speaker also talked of Georgia as a whole saying the state has added almost 600,00 new jobs in the private sector over the last 6 years. We are one of the fastest growing economies in the nation. Businesses are leaving other states in order to move here to Goergia. He continued, “We are now the number two state in the nation for the entertainment industry.”

Taking a moment to recognize complaints on the film tax credit, Ralston noted the $60 million a year credit generates over $9 billion a year saying, “Sometimes we have to invest a little to gain a lot, and I think strategic investment is a good thing.”

In an effort to spread the growth that Georgia is experiencing, he began speaking of the the challenges of rural Georgia. The Speaker spoke of a new two-year initiative called the ‘Rural Development Council.” The council’s plan is to examine every component of rural Georgia’s economy through education, healthcare, transportation, infrastructure, and more.

Ralston closed his comments thanking the teachers present for what the mean to the community and for the honor of representing the area in Atlanta.

However, before leaving, the Speaker took time to answer a few questions including one about the concept of Casino gambling in Atlanta saying, “I think the casino companies are a whole lot more interested in it than the members of the General Assembly.”

He went on to say there were several issues at play such as the general question of “Do you favor the expansion of gambling?” But if yes, more questions arise of “How many do you allow in the state?” “Do you allow one big one and one small one?” Ralston went further to say the next issues then would be about the tax rate and the distribution of proceeds.


Georgia Tech’s “Georgia Scholars Program” Announced at Gilmer High

Georgia Tech President G.P. "Bud" Peterson, Gilmer Superintendent Dr. Shanna Wilkes, Speaker of the House David Ralston, Gilmer High School Principal Carla Foley, and Director of Undergraduate Admissions at Georgia Tech Rick Clark celebrate the announcement of Georgia Tech's "Georgia Scholars Program" at Gilmer High School Thursday, August 17, 2017.

ELLIJAY, GA – Pictured above Left to Right, Georgia Tech President G.P. “Bud” Peterson, Gilmer Superintendent Dr. Shanna Wilkes, Georgia Speaker of the House David Ralston, Gilmer High School Principal Carla Foley, and Director of Undergraduate Admissions at Georgia Tech Rick Clark celebrated the announcement of Georgia Tech’s “Georgia Scholars Program” at Gilmer High School Thursday, August 17, 2017.

Georgia Tech President G.P. "Bud" Peterson announces the Georgia Scholars Program at Gilmer High School.

Georgia Tech President G.P. “Bud” Peterson announces the Georgia Scholars Program at Gilmer High School.

The Scholars Program automatically accepts Valedictorians and Salutatorians in Georgia high schools into Georgia Tech. According to Peterson, “This Georgia Tech Scholars Program is the outgrowth of our commitment to improve college access for students from throughout the state, and supports our goal of putting a Georgia Tech degree within reach of every qualified student.”

This new program goes into effect with this year’s graduating class. This means current seniors are eligible for this program.

Scholars will be accepted into the program when they are named either valedictorian or salutatorian of their high school, submit an application, and have successfully completed the prerequisite courses for entrance.

Speaker of the House David Ralston attending the Georgia Teach "Georgia Scholars Program" announcement.

Speaker of the House David Ralston attending the Georgia Teach “Georgia Scholars Program” announcement.

Georgia Speaker of the House, David Ralston called it “truly a great day for young people in Georgia.” Ralston praised the program as an encouragement of excellence in the classroom. He went on to note the importance of workforce development in Georgia’s public policy discussions and its future.

“Programs like this will help recognize, reward, and retain our best and brightest scholars. That is a critical part of ensuring Georgia’s economic growth and success for generations to come,” said Ralston.

Rick Clark, Director of Undergraduate Admission, spoke with FYN about the program. Clark said the Institute has close to 15,000 undergraduates attending the college with around 2,850 in the freshman class this year. The program aims to extend the already established APS Scholars for Atlanta Public school further out to the entire state. Traveling to Gilmer County to announce the program was another embodiment of that desire to spread the program statewide.

President "Bud" Peterson speaks with students about their future majors and possibilities at Georgia Tech.

President “Bud” Peterson speaks with students about their future majors and possibilities at Georgia Tech.

While announcing the Scholars Program, Clark also expanded Georgia Tech’s invitation to all students saying that they wanted them to apply. Don’t let the prices and money you see keep you from applying. Financial Aid and other programs are making colleges far more achievable than they first appear. Georgia Tech is wanting to let students all across the state know that they are a viable option and students should not see them as unattainable.

Gilmer County Superintendent Dr. Shanna Wilkes commented on the announcement saying, “We’re honored that they are here in Gilmer County, that they chose our high school to make that announcement. We are very proud of our students who will be attending there.”

Dr. Wilkes agreed that having two of the last year’s top three students attending Georgia Tech this fall and the announcement of the Georgia Scholars Program at Gilmer, Georgia Tech has become a more accessible reality for the many students who work towards that goal.


Gilmer ARTS Celebrates New Playhouse

George Link Jr Playhouse Ribbon Cutting

ELLIJAY, GA – Celebrating over two years of work, Gilmer ARTS held a ribbon cutting on Thursday, August 10, to officially open the doors of the George Link, Jr. Playhouse.

Congressman Doug Collins, right, speaks with a local citizen soon after cutting the ribbon on the George Link, Jr. Playhouse.

Congressman Doug Collins, right, speaks with a local citizen soon after cutting the ribbon on the George Link, Jr. Playhouse.

Hosting local community members at the Gilmer Chamber Luncheon, the playhouse also saw Congressman Doug Collins and Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives David Ralston speak before the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony.

The project of building the playhouse began under then-President of Gilmer ARTS John Rathbone who has followed the project through under new President Sharon Watkins. Rathbone says Watkins has done a wonderful job continuing the dream of the playhouse saying, “There isn’t really anyone who could have succeeded me in that position that I would have felt better about.”

Now the Executive Director of the Project, Rathbone has listed several issues the playhouse still faces such as sponsors and funding, but he feels the greater accomplishment for Gilmer ARTS is the support for the playhouse finding volunteers for positions like Artistic Director, Facility Manager, Production Manager, and Marketing Manager among others.

Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives, David Ralston

Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives, David Ralston

Community Support was echoed by Speaker Ralston when FYN caught up with him after the ceremony. Ralston told FYN, “I think it says a lot about the community, it says they are looking forward, not back. This is the result of community interest, so I think this community can take a lot of pride in what they’ve done.”

Rathbone and Watkins both mentioned the new opportunities the facility will open for both events downtown and access to community. A wide variety of events have already been booked for the venue including musical theater, comedy, magic mind reading,  and country music to name a few for the fall alone. More than that the community itself can contact Gilmer ARTS to discuss renting the facility for their own needs. The opportunities also spill over into the Gilmer ARTS original building as renovations will begin on that to increase space for classes, art gallery, and   exhibitions. The new renovations are set to begin Monday morning, August 13, according to Watkins.

Prior to renovations, a lot of preparation was needed to make the George Link, Jr. Playhouse ready for its transformation.

Prior to renovations, a lot of preparation was needed to make the George Link, Jr. Playhouse ready for its transformation.

Congressman Collins commented on the restoration process saying, “Just think about the character of old places that become new again. Think about the regeneration of communities and people, I think what it does to me is it makes everyone from our young and old know that there is hope and change and usefulness.  We are a society that is, many times, too concerned with the now. We forget that where we are standing right now is a result of people who dreamed and hoped and payed the price years ago. We are standing on their shoulders. I think buildings like this that are re-purposed for this tells us that their is a new adventurous spirit. It’s a reminder of the old that gets us to the new.”




Republicans Better Address Health Care, Tax Reform, and Build a Wall or Risk Losing The House in 2018

Featured, Politics

Does the thought of Nancy Pelosi once again being Speaker of the House terrify you? After the failed attempt to repeal and replace Obama Care the American people put health care squarely on the shoulders of the Republicans. Republicans will need to pass health care, tax reform and fund the construction of a wall on our southern border. April 18th we will find out how much trouble the Republicans may be in with voters. That’s election day in the 6th Congressional District of Georgia. Democrats need 24 seats to take over The House. If their candidate, Jon Ossoff, wins that may put in motion what Democrats hope to be 23 more seats in 2018.

There are 435 seats in The House of Representatives. See the statistics of past years below:

– 2004 –

  • Republicans: 232  
  • Democrats: 202

A difference of 30 seats.


  • Democrats: 233
  • Republicans: 202                                                  

The Democrats won 31 seats and took control.


President Obama was elected.

  • Democrats: 257
  • Republicans: 178

The Democrats won another 21 seats.                               


Republicans take back control.

  • Republicans: 242
  • Democrats: 193

The Republicans increased 63 seats. This was the largest single shift in an election cycle.


  • Republicans: 234
  • Democrats: 201

The Republicans lost 8 seats.


  • Republicans: 247
  • Democrats: 188

The Republicans gained 13 seats.


  • Republicans: 241
  • Democrats: 194

The Republicans lost 6 seats.

24 seats is what the Democrats need to take back over control.

Who will hold The House of Representatives in 2018?



Speaker Ralston Visits Clear Creek


The Georgia Speaker of the House, David Ralston, took time Wednesday, November 30, to stop by Clear Creek Middle School to deliver a very important message to the students there.

Ralston began his address telling the students, “Coming from this community, coming from these mountains, is something that will live with you for all of your life… But for all the natural beauty and peace that we enjoy here, there is a far more valuable resource. And that is our people.”

dsc00395He spoke about our community and his part in it, being in a rural area “where everyone knows everybody else.” Recalling his own childhood, Ralston told the kids its the kind of community that when he did something wrong, his father knew about it before he even got home.

Yet, Ralston smiled with this story, telling our students it is the people of the community, people that care enough to tell on you, to take care of you, to instill values that serve you that make the community we are a part of.

Pausing a moment, Ralston offered Clear Creek students a piece of advice, “Take your education seriously… Take every opportunity to better yourself. If you take the more challenging courses, try out for the team, or raise your hand in class, you won’t succeed every time. You’ll make mistakes or you won’t get an answer right… Always learn something from those experiences.”

Ralston told our kids to learn, work harder next time, take advantage of all you can. Take part time jobs, take internships, grow yourself.

But why is this so important?

In the final parts of his speech, Ralston told the kids our community needs them. We’ll need teachers, doctors, small business owners. We’ll need people prepared to handle tomorrow’s jobs and tomorrow’s opportunities. He spoke about the needs of Gilmer to have a future. “As you get older you will come to discover, as I have,” Ralston said, “that what matters isn’t whether you succeed or what you do, but to help others succeed.”

One last thing Ralston told the kids, was to tell people thank you. Thank your teachers, school bus drivers, administrators, coaches, and everyone. Ralston shared that there was many people from his life he still wants to thank, but can’t anymore. He had lost that opportunity.


Check out more by listening to Ralston’s speech below:


When we need action – David Ralston is there for us

Election, Featured, Featured Stories, Politics

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