Under Gov. Deal’s leadership, Georgia has created more than 391,000 private-sector jobs. He’s overseen five balanced budgets, saved millions of taxpayer dollars by maintaining Georgia’s AAA bond rating, and grown our rainy day fund by more $863 million, which represents a 643 percent increase.
Deal enacted pro-jobs tax reforms, including:
- Removing the sales tax on energy used in manufacturing.
- Eliminating the estate tax so that small business leaders can pass on their businesses to their families.
- Reducing the marriage tax penalty.
- Reinstituting the sales tax holidays for back-to-school shopping and energy efficient appliances.
- Enacting tax credits for agriculture, film and technology sectors.
Under Deal, Georgia’s workforce and pro-business climate have been consistently recognized as among the best in the country. Because of this, Georgia continues to see existing businesses expand and out-of-state companies relocate here, including Kia, Caterpillar, Porsche, Mercedes, Baxter Pharmaceuticals and Comcast. In 2014, Georgia was named the No. 1 state in the nation in which to do business by three separate organizations. Georgia also leads the nation in women-owned business growth.
Gov. Deal believes a strong education system leads to a strong economy and has made education investment a top priority. Deal has dedicated more than 50 percent of state funds to education every year he’s been in office, devoting a higher percentage of the budget to k-12 funding than any governor in the past 50 years.
Deal’s education priorities include:
- Increasing the number of students who are able to read at a third grade level by the completion of third grade
- Increasing the percentage of Georgians who hold a postsecondary credential
- Empowering citizens with public school options and local flexibility to improve student achievement
- Establishing an Opportunity School District
- Implementing Education Reform Commission recommendations to modernize our school funding formula
- When Deal took office, HOPE scholarship was on the brink of bankruptcy. He worked closely with the General Assembly to save the scholarship, one of the most generous in the nation, for future generations. The HOPE Scholarship, a merit-based program for four-year college students, helps keep Georgia’s best and brightest students in the state. Students who graduate in Georgia are more likely to begin their careers in Georgia, which strengthens the state’s workforce and promotes economic growth throughout a variety of industries.
- The HOPE Grant is a merit-based scholarship for students attending technical colleges in Georgia. Deal recently expanded a program that pays 100 percent technical school tuition for students pursuing training in high-demand fields. This includes commercial truck driving, diesel mechanics, welding, early childhood care and education, film set design, computer programming, precision manufacturing and certified engineering assistants.
Georgia’s logistics and infrastructure system enables companies to quickly reach domestic and international markets through interconnected airports, seaports, rail and roads. Companies in the state can reach 80 percent of the U.S. market within a two-day truck haul or a two-hour flight, and the port of Savannah is the largest single container terminal in North America, and the second-busiest U.S. container exporter. To ensure efficiency and that Georgia remains the “gateway to the Southeast,” Gov. Deal is dedicated to prioritizing transportation and infrastructure investment.
Since taking office, Deal has invested in new lanes on I-75 north and south of Atlanta, construction on road widenings in South Georgia, and construction of the Jimmy Deloach Parkway Extension near the Port of Savannah. He upheld his campaign promise to remove the tolls on Highway 400 and signed a transportation law in 2015 that will generate almost $1 billion in new transportation funding annually.
Deal is committed to deepening the Port of Savannah in order to remain competitive and serve growing trade needs. In 2015, the federal government allotted $21 million toward the project and classified the deepening as “ongoing construction,” a critical step that allows for additional funding. This funding, along with the state’s investment of $266 million, will allow the port deepening to move along as scheduled for now. However, in order to see this project through to completion on time, a larger federal share is needed. Deal is committed to working with the Georgia congressional delegation and other stakeholders to ensure its timely completion.
When Gov. Deal took office, Georgia was in the midst of a criminal justice crisis. To address these problems, Deal implemented a series of bipartisan reforms that are already paying dividends. Through these efforts, Georgia has avoided the need for 5,000 additional prison beds over five years and saved taxpayers at least $264 million.
- In Georgia, we have taken monumental steps in recent years to give new beginnings to nonviolent offenders whose underlying issues are addiction or mental illness. Instead of saddling taxpayers with the cost of a prison sentence, instead of branding the offender with the stigma of incarceration, these individuals are getting the treatment they need; they are keeping jobs; and they are keeping families together.
- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution last year reported that prison sentences imposed on African-American offenders have dropped by 20 percent and links this "unmistakable" downward trend to the state’s boost in accountability courts funding.
- "Since 2007 alone, more than three dozen [accountability] courts have opened their doors across Georgia," the AJC reported. "In the first quarter of 2014, more than 4,100 offenders were enrolled in the state’s 105 accountability courts, and many of these participants would likely be in prison without this alternative."
Juvenile justice reforms
- In 2013, Georgia was spending $91,000 on each incarcerated juvenile per year and still seeing a 65 percent recidivism rate.
- These unique challenges led to reforms including assessment tools designed to help judges determine the risk levels of juvenile offenders; providing judges with greater discretion in sentencing juveniles; and expanding community-based options across the state, an objective pursued in part through the creation of an incentive grant program.
- While these changes have only been in place a little over a year, the state has made significant progress, particularly with its incentive grant program. For example, participating counties have seen felony commitments and placements in short-term programs drop more than 62 percent over a nine-month period. This has resulted in the closure of two detention centers.
- Re-entry is the critical intersection between an offender’s incarceration and return to life in the free world. By removing barriers to employment, housing and education for rehabilitated offenders, a larger number of returning citizens are able to rejoin the workforce and support their families.
Georgia is working to meet the health care demands of a growing and geographically diverse population with sustainable, long-term solutions, including:
Fostering a culture of wellness
- Improving the health and wellness of Georgians is essential to promoting our state as a great place to live, work and play. For far too long, the incidence of diabetes, hypertension, obesity and similar health conditions has risen in Georgia. The consequent rise in healthcare costs has adversely affected our productivity, quality of life and our ability to attract jobs to Georgia. This troubling trend must be reversed through a concerted effort to promote healthy lifestyle choices and disease prevention. Childhood obesity is being addressed through Georgia SHAPE, a public-private partnership with partners like the Coca-Cola Co., the Atlanta Falcons Youth Foundation and multiple state agencies.
Strengthening the health care workforce
- Georgia is home to world-class health care institutions and practitioners who are pioneering new advances in medical research and clinical care. However, we face a decreasing number of health care providers as the number of people in need of care continues to rise. To address growing demand on our health care system, we must find innovative ways to attract and retain highly qualified providers to our state. Working with medical, nursing and technical colleges as well as current health care providers and the Departments of Community and Public Health, we will work to make Georgia an ideal place to practice medicine.
Leading in biotechnology research and innovation
- Georgia is a national leader in biotechnology with more than 120,000 jobs and more than $30 billion in economic impact to the state. Georgia is fortunate to be home to both private and public research institutions, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Marcus Autism Center, the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, and Georgia’s flagship medical research and education institution, Georgia Regents University. With ongoing translational research occurring at our state’s leading institutions, and a host of healthcare providers and facilities on the cutting edge of technology, we have a unique opportunity to dramatically expand Georgia’s biotech footprint.
- This effort brings thousands of highly skilled job opportunities to Georgia and provides Georgia patients and providers with new therapies as they emerge right on our doorstep. Economic development requires a well-managed healthcare delivery system providing positive outcomes and contained costs.
Georgia is home to a scenic environment that farmers, producers, sportsmen and nature enthusiasts are proud to call their own. Gov. Deal has protected Georgia’s environment for both its ecological and economic worth. Our state’s natural resources support agriculture, tourism, jobs and businesses alike.
Economic development and future growth in Georgia requires a dependable and sustainable water supply. Gov. Deal is committed to bringing new water supplies online and has allocated more than $250 million since 2011 for strategic investments in water supply projects around the state.
Gov. Deal also directed the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority to develop and launch the Governor’s Water Supply Development Program. This program is mobilizing state resources to assist local governments in developing new sources of water and investing in projects that address state and regional water supply needs. This program is positioning the state to better negotiate with our neighboring states and is helping to secure our economic future.