Governor Deal Discusses Legislative Achievements, Promotes T-SPLOST

Governor Nathan Deal spoke Tuesday before the Atlanta Press Club in downtown Atlanta. Deal discussed recent legislative achievements and encouraged Atlantans to support this summer’s regional transportation referendum. 

Deal called his tax reform package and the criminal justice overhaul the most important of the legislative session.

“Probably the crowning achievement of this session of the General Assembly was we were able to pass historic legislation.”

The tax overhaul lowers taxes for married couples, creates a new internet sales tax, and eliminates the annual ad valorem tax on vehicles, also known as the “birthday tax”.

Deal said one of the most critical provisions is a new tax break on equipment and energy for manufacturers.

“It was an ingredient of us being able to get Caterpillar to come to the state of Georgia.”

Deal went on to discuss the criminal justice overhaul, which seeks to reduce the prison population by giving judges more discretion in sentencing. He says the plan will save the state $250 million over the next five years.

While discussing criminal justice reform, Deal cited new statistics that show Georgia’s current high school graduation rate is actually lower than the originally reported 81 percent.

“When you see that your graduation rate is in the 60s, the question we all ought to ask, ‘What’s happening to that other 34, 35 percent?’”

He linked Georgia’s high dropout rates with its high prison population.

“They’re obviously not picking blueberries in south Georgia. Where’d they go? They go to our prison system.”

Deal went on to voice his continued support for July’s regional transportation referendum. He says metro Atlanta shouldn’t squander the opportunity, because it may not come again.

“You may not get the General Assembly to be able to delegate that authority back down to local levels of government to participate in the project selection process again if this proves to be unsuccessful.”

At the event, Deal also attempted to sign into law an overhaul of the state’s sunshine laws. The bill, however, was accidently left at the Capitol. Deal vowed to sign it as soon he returned to the office.