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January 11, 2017

Governor Deal delivers State of the State Address

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Georgia Governor Nathan Deal today delivered his annual State of the State address, speaking before members of the Georgia General Assembly.  The governor laid out his budget priorities for the fiscal year 2018 budget which includes a 2 percent salary increase for teachers.  The increase will be built in to the pay scale so that the funds cannot be redirected to other purposes.  Teachers will also receive a 3 percent merit pay increase that the governor is recommending for all state employees in next year's budget. Under the proposal, caseworks at the Department of Family and Children Services would receive a 19 percent salary increase which the governor says would help recruit and retain qualified workers to care for the state's "youngest and most vulnerable citizens."

On healthcare, which also commands a large portion of the proposed $25 million state budget, the Governor is recommending a $2.5 million boost for Medicaid and PeachCare to cover behavioral and mental health for children from birth through age 18.  Currently, children under 4 years of age are not covered by the programs.  In addition, the budget includes funding to cover children diagnosed with autism under Medicaid and State Health Benefit Plan coverage.  The Governor asked lawmakers to reauthorize the hospital provider fee and cautioned them against waiting on the federal government actions before approving the state budget.

Governor Deal told the joint gathering of House and Senate members that  legislation would be forthcoming to address Georgia's failing schools, in particular the 106 elementary schools across the state.

And, the 2018 fiscal year budget proposal includes $50 million for the state-owned Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center.

Other State of the State highlights:

  • The budget is based on projected revenue growth of 3.6 percent over FY2017
  • The Rainy Day Fund has increased to approximately $2.3 billion
  • Georgia has retain its Triple A bond rating
  • The state has set new records in trade, film production and tourism
  • Groundwork has been laid to improve transportation infrastructure dramatically over the next decade
  • Georgia has been recognized as the best state in which to do business for four consecutive years