Gov. Deal’s State of the State address Wednesday delivered what we’ve come to expect from this Governor’s office: more of the same. Just like every year before, Gov. Deal used his annual speech to showcase a Georgia that works for Gov. Deal and his buddies, but nobody else.
As expected, Gov. Deal has made merit pay for teachers a feature of his Education “Reform” agenda. He attempted to soften the blow during his speech, telling teachers that “just because we are examining ways to more appropriately allocate taxpayer dollars and put in place different models to achieve better education results, it does not mean that you are not appreciated.”
If Gov. Deal truly appreciated teachers, he would heed the words of one of Georgia’s leading teacher groups, which argues that “merit pay is ineffective because it fosters competition instead of teamwork among teachers and because a teacher’s effect on a child is difficult to measure.”
Much fanfare was made this week regarding Gov. Deal’s plan to spend revenue from the transportation tax passed last year.
The message was a big one: roads.
And that’s it.
Infrastructure spending is crucial to our economy, and efforts to expand it should be applauded, but we can’t fall into the trap of praising one success and ignoring the many failures. Georgia is far behind other states of our size on mass transit, and it’s time we make it a priority.
MARTA didn’t get a single mention in the speech.
Perhaps least surprising of all was Gov. Deal’s tirade against Medicaid expansion. For years, Gov. Deal has justified his refusal to expand the vital government program by arguing that the state couldn’t afford to take on the financial burden. Once again he repeated this claim in his speech, but failed to mention the billions of dollars in federal funding Georgia would have received with the expansion. He also failed to mention the hundreds of thousands of Georgians who are without healthcare today due to his actions. And he also failed to mention the rural hospital crisis that threatens communities across the state.