Lt. Gov. Burt Jones

JEKYLL ISLAND – Inflation will drive support for former President Donald Trump’s bid to return to the White House, Lt. Gov. Burt Jones predicted Thursday.

“2020 was the personality vote,” Jones, the first Georgia elected official to back Trump’s first campaign for president in 2015, said during a luncheon speech at the Georgia Press Association’s annual conference. “2024 is going to be a pocketbook vote.”

Jones cited the high price of gasoline and other necessities under President Joe Biden as more important to voters in the 2024 election cycle than the concerns over Trump’s character that marked the Republican’s narrow loss to Democrat Biden four years ago.

Indeed, 29% of 1,203 registered Georgia voters who responded to a Quinnipiac University poll earlier this week said the economy is the most important issue in determining how they will vote for president. The state of the economy outranked preserving democracy in the United States and immigration, rated most important by 23% and 14% of those surveyed, respectively.

Jones, who presides over the state Senate, also highlighted a couple of bills the General Assembly passed during this year’s session after years of failure.

He said a private-school vouchers bill Republican leaders steered through the legislature will give parents with children living in neighborhoods with low-performing public schools a chance to send them to a private school if they choose.

“Even the best public schools might not be the best fit for every child,” he said.

Jones also praised lawmakers for passing long-awaited legislation to reform Georgia’s “antiquated” Certificate of Need (CON) process governing the construction of new health-care facilities and the provision of new medical services.

He said rural communities looking to expand health-care access have been blocked repeatedly by the need to undergo an expensive, cumbersome CON review at the state level that forces them to demonstrate a need for a new hospital or medical service in their area.

“I watched a lot of these communities hindered around the state,” Jones said. “Everybody was shocked that we got it done.”