At the annual Eggs and Issues event, leaders set goals for the coming year.

ATLANTA — Each year, thousands of Georgians gather for the state’s annual Eggs & Issues breakfast, an event that officially kicks off the state’s legislative session. Breakfast also serves as an opportunity for leaders to set their goals for the coming year. Three of the top priorities highlighted at the event were tackling the state’s labor shortage, expanding access to education and stepping up public safety efforts.

Georgia Chamber of Commerce President Chris Clark said that while the pandemic and the Omicron surge are at the forefront, the other crisis Georgia is facing is labor shortages.

“Our biggest problem behind omicron right now is getting people back to work at the end of the day,” added Clark.

He announced the chamber would release a plan called the “War on Talent” to help companies struggling to find workers after the pandemic led to last year’s big resignation.

“We need to talk better with companies about how to attract and retain employees,” Clark continued.

According to leaders, the plan outlines policy recommendations and best practices for businesses, including encouragement to raise wages and provide housing and transportation for workers. The chamber also said it wants to work to reform federal immigration laws to help provide workers to Georgia farmers.

Proponents said the other facet of this initiative is its focus on education.

“We have young people who are going to graduate where there aren’t jobs, so we have to make sure that’s where we’re aligned,” Clark added.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp also emphasized the connection between education and a strong workforce, announcing that 90% of tuition would now be covered by the Hope Scholarship.

“For eight years in a row – Georgia’s economy is second to none across the country and it is our responsibility to develop a workforce that fuels that success by reducing costs for families and students – that’s what we will do,” said the governor Kemp.

The governor added that making the college more accessible is crucial to addressing the labor shortage.

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens also spoke at breakfast and acknowledged that one of his biggest challenges this year would be dealing with the rise in violent crime in Atlanta.

“This city will be clean, safe and just for all,” said Dickens.

The mayor added that he will also focus on keeping Buckhead in Atlanta, beginning those efforts with Thursday’s unveiling of a new Buckhead police precinct.

“Some people might want to use the rise in crime to break us up, but we know as a city that we’re stronger together,” added Dickens.

Both House Speaker David Ralston and Deputy Governor Jeff Duncan said they would focus on increasing funding for police departments. the lt Governor announced he would introduce the Less Crime Act, which would provide a $250 million tax credit for donations to law enforcement.

“This is an opportunity for citizens to write checks directly to their local law enforcement agencies and receive a dollar-per-dollar federal tax credit,” Lt. Gov. Duncan.

the lt Gov said his plan is for departments to use the money donated to increase wages, hire more officers and improve resources for mental health-related emergencies.