House Appropriations Chairman Terry England sent us the following this morning. It’s clearly a open letter in support of Nathan Deal. More importantly, it has actual facts regarding Georgia’s education spending to contrast to a lot of the campaign rhetoric we’ve been hearing.
The Democrat seeking to become our state’s next governor has been telling voters that Republican Gov. Nathan Deal has “dismantled” education in Georgia.
The only thing being dismantled is the truth.
Gov. Deal absolutely has not “slashed billions of dollars from public education,” as Jason Carter falsely claims.
The fact is that the state’s first Republican governor, Sonny Perdue, increased education funding to a record $7.9 billion in FY2008 but over the next two years was forced to make almost $1.4 billion in cuts because of the impact of the Great Recession.
In his first term, Gov. Deal managed to restore that $7.9 billion funding level — which, by the way, is $2 billion more than when Democrat Roy Barnes was governor.
According to the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, Georgia “allocates a higher percentage of its state budget to education than most states.”
And in FY2013 — before Gov. Deal’s two most recent multi-million-dollar funding hikes for schools — Georgia’s K-12 spending as a percentage of total state spending was “the third highest in the nation,” according to the National Association of Budget Officers.
Carter also claims that Georgia’s HOPE college scholarship program under Gov. Deal is “vanishing.”
The fact is that when Gov. Deal took office in January 2011, he was told the HOPE program was running out of money and in danger of insolvency. The Georgia Lottery revenues that pay HOPE scholarships had been hit by the recession, and it appeared the program’s reserves could evaporate by 2013.
Gov. Deal did what any prudent manager of such a valuable resource for so many Georgia families would do. He trimmed benefits to allow the program’s reserves to stabilize and now rebound. In other words, he did not destroy the HOPE program. He saved it.
Former Gov. Zell Miller, who established the HOPE program, has strongly endorsed the re-election of Nathan Deal precisely because of his prudent handling of the HOPE funding crisis. The reserve fund is now approaching $1 billion!
As for Carter’s other false claims — that Gov. Deal is responsible for the loss of 9,000 teaching positions since 2009 and he somehow has damaged the state’s technical colleges — here are the facts:
• Gov. Deal didn’t take office until 2011 and wasn’t responsible for any annual budgets until FY2012. If the Governor’s budgets for FY2012, FY2013 and FY2013 were so bad for teachers, why did Carter vote in favor of them?
• And why was it that only after he decided to run for governor did Carter side with just four other senators to oppose the Governor’s FY2015 budget — especially since that budget provided one of the largest single-year increases in K-12 funding in Georgia’s history?
• As for the status of our technical colleges: During the first three years that Gov. Deal was in office, they collectively awarded almost 20 percent more certificates, diplomas or associate degrees than during the three years prior to 2011.
So Georgia voters, despite what you are seeing and hearing in paid political ads, the sky is not falling on our educational system. The ads are misleading. You are being manipulated.
Please do not replace a proven leader who has been tested in the fires of a national recession with someone who can’t get even the most basic facts straight and would have to spend the next four years learning on the job.
Please do re-elect Nathan Deal as Georgia’s Governor.
Rep. Terry England (R-Auburn)
House Appropriations Chairman