Editor’s note: Since the COVID-19 crisis prevented the Polk County Chamber of Commerce from hosting a candidate forum in person ahead of the June 9 primary, the organization reached out to candidates with questions to answer in a written form. Below are the questions and answers for State Rep. Trey Kelly (R-Cedartown.)
Question 1: What is your assessment of health care in rural Georgia and what are your plans to improve health care of the citizens in rural Georgia?
We should constantly strive to improve healthcare in rural Georgia by strengthening our hospitals and driving down healthcare costs for consumers. Now more than ever, our community needs a proven, conservative leader to continue to fight for us at the State Capitol. In the House I championed the Rural Hospital Tax Credit which incentivizes individuals and corporate citizens to support rural hospitals and single handedly made sure Polk Medical Center would be able to take advantage of this program. I also delivered for our district by helping broker an agreement between our local hospital and Blue Cross Blue Shield which brought Polk Medical Center back “in-network” with BCBS driving down healthcare costs and making healthcare more accessible to residents of our community. I am also proud to have supported efforts which will end surprise medical bills and reduce prescription drug costs in Georgia. Find out more at WWW.KELLEYFORHOUSE.COM.
Question 2: The state has taken previous measures to help find a path forward on rural broadband. What further steps should we take to implement a widespread rollout of better connectivity across rural Georgia?
In today’s 21st Century economy, having access to high-speed internet is just as important as having access to electricity. During my time in the legislature I have been one of the strongest supporters of delivering high-speed internet to all corners of the 16th District and our state. The Covid-19 crisis has forced our students to learn outside the traditional classroom setting and online virtual “meetings” have become the new normal. The need for every Georgian to have access to high-speed internet has never been more apparent and while we have made progress there is still work to be done. We must continue to encourage new investment in high-speed internet by opening the market to more internet providers and finding ways to drive down the capital cost for these companies. As your Representative I will continue to work closely with the Trump administration to secure federal dollars to fund this expansion.
Question 3: What more can we do for educators as their importance has been highlighted during this pandemic?
I’m the son of two educators, Doyle and Laura Kelley, and a proud product of our public-school system. Our children are our state’s most treasured resource and there’s no greater investment we can make as a state than the one we make in our education system. In the legislature, I have been a fierce advocate for students and educators. We’ve got to allow teachers to teach. That means giving teachers more flexibility in their classrooms and dismantling common core. I’m proud to say our education system is currently funded at the highest level in our state’s history. I’ve worked with Governor Kemp and fellow state leaders to give our teachers a $3,000 pay raise and delivered $30,000 to each school in Polk School District to use any way they saw fit to make our schools more secure so that students can focus on learning without being afraid for their safety.
Question 4: With record unemployment and the state facing a continued economic crisis in regard to COVID-19, what steps do you think we need to take to ensure the state’s economic viability but also keep its recognition to be one of the best states in which to conduct business?
As your Representative I worked with Governor Deal and fellow state leaders to bring Georgia out of one of the most difficult economic times in our state’s history and I’m the proven, conservative leader our community needs working with President Trump to get Georgia and America back on track. I was part of the team that made Georgia the #1 state in the nation to do business and am the only candidate who has the private sector experience to keep it that way. To climb out of this Covid-19 economic crisis we must cut taxes and reduce burdensome regulations that hamper private sector growth. I led the effort to pass the largest income tax cut in Georgia’s history which allowed individuals and businesses to keep more of their hard-earned dollars. By getting government out of your pocket and out of the way, the private sector will start growing again.
Question 5: Our state still faces a crisis in the number of healthcare workers we have on the front lines, in what ways do you think the state should work towards finding more people willing to come to provide healthcare in Georgia?
As a state we must attack this problem from multiple angles. We must attract individuals to come to our state that are already working in the healthcare field, but we must also develop our own Georgia grown healthcare workers. To attract healthcare workers to our state we must have a business climate that is friendly to their occupation. I have a proven track record of working hand in hand with the healthcare industry to ensure workers want to locate in Georgia. That is why I was named the Legislator of the Year for the Georgia Association of Physicians Assistants in 2017 and the Legislator of the Year for the Georgia Healthcare Association in 2015 Developing Georgia grown healthcare workers requires us to expand educational opportunities. In the House I have championed efforts to provide increased residency slots for upcoming doctors and tax incentives aimed at training nurses.
Question 6: Georgia has taken great steps forward in ensuring that our citizens are safe, but crime rates continue to remain an issue at the forefront of our states more critical issues to tackle first. What further steps can the state take to make Georgia a safer place?
Georgia is blessed with a cross section of interstates, the world’s busiest airport, and Port of Savannah. Unfortunately, while our robust transportation infrastructure is good for Georgia’s economy, it invites the evils of sex trafficking and drug smuggling. What we know is that gang bangers are no longer confined to metro Atlanta and are spreading their networks all across Georgia. These gangs are terrorizing our communities and bringing drugs to our front porches. I am the proven, conservative leader who has worked shoulder to shoulder with local and state law enforcement officials to crack down on these predators. I’ve also got a proven record of defending our 2nd Amendment Rights so that individuals can protect themselves. I helped passed what Fox News called the strongest 2nd Amendment Bill in the Country and am the only candidate who has an “A” rating and the endorsement of the National Rifle Association.