After seeing President Obama’s funding proposal for the Port of Savannah, Gov. Nathan Deal experienced a typical Valentine’s Day reaction: disappointment that it didn’t live up to expectations but hope for better outcomes in the future.
“We had obviously hoped for a much greater show of support from the president for this important project, but the good news is that the president obviously supports moving forward since he included $600,000 to complete the application process,” Deal said. “Georgia and the Southeast greatly need this project, and the federal government has a constitutional authority and responsibility to pay for waterways and ports. The state of Georgia has done its part. Our state taxpayers are a willing partner in this effort. Over the past two years, we have dedicated approximately $100 million in state money to put toward the deepening. Additionally, I have proposed $32 million for the Port in this year’s budget. However, recognizing the national importance of this project, the federal government needs to carry its weight here to strengthen American competitiveness, and I will work closely with our congressional delegation to get the funding we need to move forward.
“President Obama has said repeatedly that he wants to create good jobs for Americans. Deepening the harbor is exactly the sort of public sector effort that will jump-start massive job creation in the private sector. A deeper port will bring in more ships and larger ships, creating efficiencies that will lower the costs of commerce and increase our standard of living in Georgia. Just as important, it’ll create more jobs by making it easier to export Georgia peanuts, poultry, carpets, Kia autos, golf carts and the thousands of other products manufactured by Georgia businesses each day.”
The state of Georgia is seeking $105 million from the federal government this year for the harbor project, which will deepen the waters from 42 feet to 48 feet and allow for the larger ships that will cross the Panama Canal once its expansion is complete in 2014. Overall, the deepening will cost $600 million.