Gov. Deal gives his State of the State speech at the Capitol in Atlanta.
Gov. Deal gives his State of the State speech at the Capitol in Atlanta.

Gov. Nathan Deal was expected to announced sweeping changes to Georgia’s education system during today’s State of the State address, but has deeded lawmakers need more time to review the changes before taking a vote.

A committee spent all of 2015 creating a series of recommendations for Deal, including more charter schools, more money spent per student, flexibility on testing standards, and how state money is divvied up between local school districts.

Deal told lawmakers that he wants a full review this year of the recommendations, but he did add a pay raise for Pre-K teachers.

Deal said: “Because of the magnitude of the recommendations contained in the report, some statutory changes will be necessary to implement them fully. Other recommendations can be achieved through the budgetary process. As an example, my proposed budget provides funds to implement a new compensation model for our Pre-K programs in order to retain lead teachers, increase assistant teacher salaries and maintain classroom quality. The Pre-K budget recommendation is in excess of $358 million, which includes $26.2 million for salary increases and an additional $7.9 million for a 3 percent merit pay increase.”

Deal also updated lawmakers on last year’s passage of House Bill 170 for infrastructure improvement. “Over the next 18 months, approximately 60 percent of the user fees from H.B. 170 will be used to repair and maintain our existing infrastructure,” Deal said. “The remaining 40 percent will be used for new infrastructure investments.”

The governor also said Georgia had weathered the recession and trumpeted the state’s low unemployment rate.

“By passing conservative budgets, coupled with the economic growth that was spurred by our reforms, our Rainy Day Fund that was almost gone five years ago has now grown to over $1.43 billion. By cutting taxes and removing regulatory burdens on businesses, our unemployment rate has been cut almost in half and now stands at 5.6 percent. And, the construction industry that was hit so hard by the waves of the Great Recession now has the third lowest unemployment rate in the country at just 4 percent. By removing sales tax on energy for manufacturing, there have been over 22,000 new manufacturing jobs, a 6.4 percent increase that is more than double the growth rate of the United States. These jobs represent over $900 million in added wages.”

You can read the full text of Deal’s speech at 11Alive.

 

 

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.