When Republican Sen. Hunter Hill saw the way Cobb County voted in the presidential election, he felt grateful to be back in the Georgia Senate.
“I didn’t realize it, but I’m doggone lucky to be standing here in front of you today,” Hill said to the Rotary Club of Sandy Springs, a couple weeks after winning the election with 52 percent of the vote.
Hill spoke to the Rotary Club at the Hilton Perimeter Suites in Sandy Springs on Nov. 21 about his goals for the state as he begins his third term as the state senator for Georgia’s 6th district.
While Hill addressed a variety of topics, including Hillary Clinton’s “surprising” 56-39 victory in Cobb County, the majority of his speech addressed his vision for the state’s funding of education, healthcare and transportation.
On education, Hill said the goal is to reform schools following the failure of the Opportunity School District ballot question, a proposal from Gov. Nathan Deal that would have allowed state control of chronically failing schools.
“The bottom line is the old funding formula is not working, and we’ve got to figure out a way to fund education better and really have money follow the child better,” Hill said. “That would be my hope and not be determined by any other factors.”
Hill also said he believes there should be less focus on giving teachers higher pensions and more on higher salaries.
“I think we should be paying [teachers] a better wage for the value that they’re bringing today,” Hill said.
On the topic of healthcare, Hill said he doesn’t know what President-elect Donald Trump will do to reform healthcare, but he is sure there will be changes over the next four years.
Hill addressed Medicaid, which is currently funded 35 percent from the state and 65 percent from the federal government. Those numbers are currently set in stone, but Hill said through way of a block grant, perhaps the split doesn’t have to stay the way it is.
“How we manage that is very important,” Hill said.
Hill expressed his desire to add more money toward transportation, but to be careful as to what the state decides to fund. He said rail transit isn’t necessary in today’s world of ride sharing through Uber and other innovations.
The transportation budget is currently at 5 percent of the state’s budget, but Hill wants that to change.
“I’d like to see us push transportation spending up to really take into account the growth challenges that the metro Atlanta area faces over the next 15 to 20 years,” Hill said.