The governor started out with a poetic embrace of the Age of Explorers. He equated himself with Columbus, da Gama, Vespucci and Magellan. And then Gov. Deal said Georgia must not change it’s course.
Georgians have charged us to set a course for our state and they have defined the stars that we must follow to expand opportunity: the star of education – we must provide great schools that will cultivate the minds of our young people … the star of transportation – we must provide safe roads and avenues of commerce … the star of security – we must give every Georgian the ability to live in a safe community … and the guiding star in our constellation, jobs – we must create a business climate that provides Georgians with their best shot at a good job! These are the stars on which our eyes must be focused as we chart the course for our great state!
He claimed last year and again this year that “the state of our state is strong.” He must be living in a different Georgia than I am.
The Georgia that I see ranks dead last in job growth over the past two years. It’s losing jobs as the rest of the nation recovers.
My Georgia recently passed a law that cost the average family farmer $1.2 million in lost revenue annually, for a total of $1 billion statewide.
But Gov. Deal’s Georgia is strong. So he made a few promises:
- “for every student who earns HOPE, my budget for next year maintains the same award amount received this year.”
- “we will again appropriate $20 million for the needs-based one percent student loan program which eases the burden of affording a college education”
- “appropriate an additional $146.6 million to fully fund enrollment growth in our K-12 schools”
- ” in both the technical college and university systems, I am calling for an additional $111.3 million to fund anticipated enrollment growth.”
- “because we believe they are vital ingredients of the educational experience we provide young Georgians, my budget calls for $3.7 million in additional funds for school nurses!”
- “My proposed budget calls for an additional $55.8 million to fund salary increases for our teachers based on training and experience.”
- “The budget I’m proposing increases the Pre-K school year for 84,000 students by 10 days, bringing it to 170 days”
- “my budget includes $1.6 million for a reading mentors program”
- “I am also recommending $8.7 million in supplemental grants in both the Amended budget and next year’s budget for state chartered special schools affected by the Georgia Supreme Court ruling on charter schools”
- “Georgians deserve a world-class, public medical university, and it will be a priority of this administration to have a medical college among the top 50 nationally”
- “the Georgia Health Sciences University will seek to become the state’s second National Cancer Institute designated Cancer Center”
- “To support this goal of a second Georgia-based Cancer Center, my budget proposal includes an investment of $5 million”
- “My budget funds 400 new residency slots in hospitals across the state.”
- “we need a bigger, smarter transportation network to move people and products in the most efficient way possible”
- “To reduce traffic congestion in Metro-Atlanta along Georgia 400”
- “My budget for next year includes $46.7 million in bonds to continue deepening the harbor”
- “we are working to ensure every Georgia community has dependable water supplies”
- “My budget for next year proposes $45.7 million for water supply projects, the second installment in a four-year plan calling for $300 million of new investment in water supply”
- “my budget proposes $1.4 million to fund additional parole officers at the State Board of Pardons and Paroles”
- “I am also recommending $35.2 million for additional prison beds”
- “I am also recommending $10 million in next year’s budget for the creation of new Accountability Courts – drug, DUI, mental health and veteran courts”
- “I am proposing the elimination of the sales tax on energy used in manufacturing”
- “I am proposing sales and use tax exemptions for construction materials used in projects of regional significance”
- “we are proposing to restructure Georgia’s Job Tax Credits and Quality Jobs Tax Credit programs”
- “Ladies and gentleman, the state of our state is strong!”
This is a long list of promises but it provides a good scorecard for grading Gov. Deal and our Legislature this year. Better Georgia will spend time researching each of these promises and closely watch the pockets Gov. Deal might pick to find the money.