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FEATURE – STATE of the STATE: Reminding Legislators their actions benefit future generations, Gov. Nathan Deal urges leaders ‘to water the trees’ he has planted

Category: Georgia News

By Lou Phelps, Coastal Empire News

January 11, 2018 – In an emotional speech today, Gov. Nathan Deal delivered his annual 'State of the State’ address Thursday morning before a joint session of the House and Senate at the Georgia State House.

There have been 82 governors since Georgia became a state, explained Speaker of the House David Ralston, in introducing Gov. Deal, and adding that Deal was one of the best, and a governor who “has worked tirelessly do to the right thing, regardless of the slings and arrows.”

The Governor’s 2019 budget proposal and 2018 Amended Budget proposal will both be released today. Deal’s ‘State of the State’ speech highlighted both what is in those proposals, and offered an overview of what has been accomplished during his tenure, so far. 

Beginning with the theme that one plants a tree even though it may not bear fruit during one’s lifetime, he and choked up remembering those, “who planted the trees before me.”  And he reminded the legislators that over half of the current people serving were not in office when he became Governor in 2011.  But, while in office, he urged them to do the right thing for the future of the people of Georgia.

“We have endeavored to plant whole orchards … to not only bring Georgia out of the great recession, but to insure that our children and grandchildren can live in a prosperous and safe state,” he said.

In his seven years in office, Deal said that 625,000 new private sector jobs have been created. And, he highlighted his administration's focus and efforts to build Georgia’s television and film industry.

“Just ten years ago, the film industry generated $241 million a year.  Now ... the industry generated $9.5 billion in economic impact,” last year.  To support that effort, 13 state universities and technical colleges now have programs to prepare a workforce for the industry, part of  Georgia Film Academy, created by his administration, “that is now the gold standard in the industry,” he said.

Follow the theme, "The orchards of opportunity that we have planted together,” include: 

- Increased education spending by $3.6 billion, in his final budget proposal, for a total of over $14 billion in increased spending to schools during his tenure. 

- Created the Early Language and Literacy Center at Milledgeville, focusing on birth to 3rd grade reading and language training for teachers and early childhood professionals. He choked up again when speaking about his wife, Sandra Deal, who has championed this project and literacy during his tenure, and have visited every school district in the state.  

- Protected the Hope Scholarship, created by Gov. Zell Miller, through reforms put in place by his administration.

- Adjusted the degree and training programs of the state’s educational system to meet the needs of the state’s diverse economic climate.

- Created the Hope Career Grant that covers 100% of the tuition for students enrolled in one of the high-demand technical jobs where Georgia industry needs a trained workforce; 92.2% find employment upon graduation, Deal stated.

- Said that the State will be moving its Workforce Development program to the Technical College System to continue to align educational opportunities with the demand for workers.

 - Recognized that 30% of high schools did not pursue further information after graduation. To address this, the Deal administration created the TCSG program, that allows students to attend technical colleges while in high school, encouraging them to pursue a technical certification program.  His 2019 budget proposal includes an additional $1 million to continue a marketing campaign aimed at high school students.  

- Launched a program to bring a technical college education opportunity to the state’s prison system, to encourage inmates to learn a vocational skill while incarcerated.  Deal has added funding for two additional mobile labs for welding training into his proposed 2018 Amended budget, to be released today.

- Has enhanced the Georgia Trooper School for training Georgia State Troopers.

- Created a Children’s Mental Health Commission which began in June 2017.  His budget proposal includes $22.9 million in funding, based on the recommendations of the Commission.

And, saying that this is not his obituary, he again chocked up in saying that he and Sandra are close to “completing almost four decades of service to this state,” and asked those in attendance to not neglect the “trees that we have planted.”  

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