From the beautiful hallways of the state Capitol, echoing with the sounds of children singing Christmas carols, this is Senator Keith Ingram.
As a member of the Legislative Council, my schedule at the state Capitol is full, right up to the final weekend before Christmas.
The Council is the body that oversees the operations of state government during the interim between legislative sessions.
It has been a productive year at the state Capitol, especially in regards to public education.
Earlier this year we enacted legislation that will reduce the paperwork and administrative duties of school counselors, so they can spend more “face time” with individual students.
Another new law guarantees at least 40 minutes a day of recess for elementary students.
We also approved an increase in the minimum salaries of teachers, of about $1,000 a year for the next four years.
Speaking of pay raises, the legislature budgeted a salary increase for State Troopers. It’s a measure I worked on throughout the 2019 session, because I believe the salaries of our State Troopers should be competitive with all of our neighboring states.
It provides a five percent raise to about 515 state troopers, over and above any merit raise or COLA they’re due to receive.
We adopted a balanced budget for state government, even after cutting personal income taxes, homestead property taxes and corporate tax rates.
The benefits of this year’s legislative session will accrue over the long term, by improving our schools and our business climate.
Finally, before saying goodbye to 2019, I’d like to wish all of you a Merry Christmas, filled with the blessings of peace and the grace of God’s love.
From the Capitol, it is my great honor and sincere privilege to serve you as your state Senator. This is Keith Ingram.