Georgia GOP State Senator Bill Cowsert Taunts: “Who Is Going To Boycott Us, Illegal Aliens?”
This is exactly what they think can happen. That they pass a draconian, discriminatory law that affects a whole community because they see no repercussion. Well, thousands of you have already pledged to boycott Georgia but we NEED more – Please get your friends to sign the pledge @ mycuentame.org/boycottgeorgia — Axel Caballero
MONROE — Georgia businesses aren’t likely to see the same kind of boycotts that hit Arizona in the wake of a crackdown on illegal immigration, a state senator told local business leaders.
The Georgia legislature has passed a bill similar to one in Arizona that allows local law enforcement officials to detain someone who is in the country illegally. Gov. Nathan Deal has said he will sign it.
“I got asked that question by a radio commentator the other day, and I don’t see it,” state Sen. Bill Cowsert told members of the Walton County Chamber of Commerce.
“Who’s going to boycott us, illegal aliens? Are they going to turn themselves in and raise their hand that they’re opposed to it? I don’t see that hurting our businesses here.”
Cowsert, R-Athens, said the law would save Georgia money.
“Our statistics show that it’s costing us $2.4 billion a year in Georgia, and that’s for educating and health care and law enforcement, locking these people up that don’t belong here, that don’t have permission to be here.”
He said the federal government has a “liberal” policy on immigration compared to much of the rest of the world that allows people to enter the U.S. when they have a job waiting for them or a skill set that’s in demand.
“So, if they protest, bring it on because I think our citizens have sent the message to all of us (legislators) at this table in our campaigns that they want something done about it, not to spend our $2.4 billion a year paying for people who aren’t supposed to be here.”
Rep. Len Walker, R-Loganville, also approves of the immigration bill.
“We have a massive problem, and we believe that this immigration bill will go a long way to addressing that,” he said.
Members of the county’s legislative delegation addressed the chamber Wednesday, less than a week after the regular session of the General Assembly ended in Atlanta.
The session began Jan. 10 in the midst of a winter storm that nearly paralyzed most of the state. Deal succeeded Sonny Perdue as governor and the legislature tackled such hot-button issues as tax reform and the retail sale of alcohol on Sundays, all amid continued declines of revenue.
“It was a very — sort of tough session,” Cowsert said.
“We’re still in that mode where we’re not able to really expand spending very much. We’re still cutting. We’re all very proud that we did not raise taxes at all. Some states have responded to this economic downturn by raising their taxes to keep their state revenues up. Here in Georgia, we must have a balanced budget and we decided we’d just spend what we have.”
The General Assembly passed an $18.2 billion budget — a more than 13 percent decrease from a couple of years ago. Walker said it’s almost on par with the 2003 budget.
“In our view, we’re still providing the essential government services,” Cowsert said, adding that he hopes the economic picture is improving.
“We do think the economy’s bottomed out and revenues are coming back,” he said.
Still, work had to be done to preserve the HOPE scholarship. A change passed this year caps money available for most students.
“We’ve gone from having about 200,000 kids enrolled in colleges in Georgia to over 300,000,” Cowsert said. “Our number of students has drastically increased, and tuition has gone up. … So, the draining of the reserves of HOPE really accelerated because we were continuing to pay 100 percent.”
The scholarship will pay about 90 percent of current tuition rates for most students who qualify. A scholarship named in honor of former Gov. Zell Miller, pays full tuition for the highest-achieving students.
Walton County’s freshman lawmakers, Sen. Rick Jeffares and Rep. Bruce Williamson, said they were proud of the accomplishments in their first sessions.
Jeffares, R-Locust Grove, was glad the General Assembly passed laws for public-private partnerships on building reservoirs and tax credits for aerospace and tourism.
“It’s a lot of work to get these bills passed, I learned,” he said.
Williamson said his campaign last summer revealed two big issues on voters’ minds: jobs and immigration.
“This General Assembly addressed both those issues, and I think very well,” he said.
Williamson said he was pleased to find a devotional period for legislators at the Capitol and also came away impressed with his colleagues.
“Everybody up there, without exception, is trying to do the right thing,” he said.
Jeffares said his senate district is the state’s third largest. It stands to lose 68,000 people in redistricting.
House District 107, Walker said, is the state’s largest. He could lose 30,000 constituents when the legislature takes up redistricting in a special August session.
“It is always a massive job,” he said.