Governor Deal this morning released a wide ranging statement on policy objectives he hopes to accomplish during a second term. It is posted below, in its entirety.
Staying No. 1. It’s why I’m running.
By Nathan Deal
In my first term, I’ve worked every day to make Georgia the No. 1 place in the nation in which to do business and create jobs, and together, we accomplished that goal, with top rankings from CNBC and Site Selection magazine in the past year.
In my second term, I want to keep Georgia the No. 1 place for business and jobs, not so that we can have a banner hanging from the rafters but so we can attract businesses, investors and top talent from around the country and the globe to create more good-paying jobs for Georgians. Jobs for Georgians. A high standard of living for our families. Investment in a better future for our children. That’s what this is about. That’s my motivation. That’s why I’m running for governor once again.
I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished working with the General Assembly these past four years, but we have only just begun. To stay No. 1, your team has to go out on the field every season and prove again and again that you’re the best.
In the game of state governance, I plan on doing that by continuing the work we’ve started in education, transportation, economic development, criminal justice, health care and government accountability.
Rebounding from the Great Recession, we’ve increased k-12 spending for the past four years, including an additional $530 million this year. This funding allowed most districts to end furlough days and increase teacher take-home pay. We also put in money to connect classrooms to the Internet, opening up tremendous possibilities for bringing world-class instruction to every corner of the state.
In the next four years, I will:
- Continue to prioritize education spending, which comprises more than 54 percent of the state budget this year.
- Incentivize more technology training through a plan to let computer programming substitute for foreign language, math or science requirements needed for high school graduation.
- Update the 1985 school funding formula to meet the needs of a 2015 classroom. I will offer reforms that will give school districts more flexibility and help our best teachers stay in the classroom.
Transportation plays a role in staying No. 1 too. Our infrastructure must allow us to move goods quickly to market and allow for the workforce to get to the workplace in a reliable and timely fashion. In my second term, I will deliver the following that will create new jobs:
- Begin work on the deepening of the Savannah harbor.
- Complete the Jimmy DeLoach Parkway Extension near the Port.
- Construct and pay for a major overhaul of the economically important Ga. 400/I-285 interchange, one of the most congested corridors in the country.
- Add badly needed new lanes and options for commuters on I-75 north and south of Atlanta.
- Finish the last segment of the Fall Line Freeway in Middle Georgia.
- Begin construction on widenings from Albany to Valdosta and from Valdosta to Waycross in South Georgia.
- Ensure freight and rail corridors meet needs of expanded port.
Since I took office, we have created nearly 300,000 private sector jobs in Georgia, placing us at No. 5 in the nation in net new jobs and in the top one-third in jobs created per capita. We lowered taxes on families and job creators, eliminating the sales tax on energy used in manufacturing.
In my next term, I will:
- Expand the Strategic Industries Workforce Development Grant — which pays for full technical school tuition for specified industry sectors with workforce shortages — to include additional areas of study.
- Make it easier for small businesses and Georgia-based businesses to gain state contracts so we can keep jobs here.
- Implement the High Demand Career Initiative, which partners our University System and Technical College System with private sector employers so that our institutions are offering the specific skill sets that Georgia employers seek.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM
The criminal justice and juvenile justice reforms that I have signed into law are already working. We’ve changed historical patterns, saved tax dollars and increased public safety. We have eliminated the once-huge county jail backlog, created drug and mental health courts that provide cheaper and more effective alternative sentencing. Recent reports say that the number of African-Americans being sent to prison has dropped by nearly 20 percent. The next goal is to give them the skills they need to keep a job so they don’t return to a life of crime.
In my next term, I will:
- Focus on re-entry into society for inmates who have completed their sentences. This includes assisting with transitional housing and job placement.
- Help more inmates attain their high school diploma while in prison and expand job skill training for inmates that already have a high school degree.
- Establish veterans courts for returning service members facing issues related to their service.
Health care costs continue to rise, squeezing state revenues more and more. Yet, as a state we’ve continued to invest in health care. We’ve begun work in Augusta on the state’s second National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center, invested in Georgia Regents University to make it a top 50 medical school in the nation, added autism coverage to the State Health Benefit Plan and increased the number of residency slots to keep more young doctors in Georgia.
In my next term, I will:
- Continue to seek block grant funding for Medicaid from the federal government so that we can receive our fair share of federal funding without additional state spending that we can’t afford.
CAMPAIGN TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY
I will work to pass major reforms to the Georgia Campaign Finance and Accountability Commission. In order to remove any appearance of conflict of interest, I will expand the commission and include equal numbers of appointments from the executive, legislative and judicial branch. Cases against a member of one branch of government would be handled by appointees of the other two branches.