Mar 12

 

Thank you to Chairman Dendy and the Cobb Co. GOP for inviting me to join them Saturday morning. It is always a privilege to spend time with those who contiune to make our party strong. READ MORE 

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MARIETTA — Gov. Nathan Deal urged fellow Republicans to go to the polls to ensure victory for the party in his address Saturday morning to the Cobb County Republican Convention.

“Thank you for what you’re going to do to make sure that we don’t have another four years of President Obama in the White House,” Deal said in his closing remarks.

However, most of Deal’s remarks were made in a less partisan tone as he highlighted what he deemed as the successes of his administration over the past year, since taking office in January 2011. The Cobb convention was the only county convention on Saturday that the governor attended.

He said he increased the state’s rainy-day fund from $116 million to $328 million in a year and will work to continue to increase it in the upcoming budget. He has already requested state agencies to submit 2013 budgets at 2 percent below their current budgets and he said he will consolidate state job functions where needed.

Revenue over the past year-and-a-half has been on the positive side, Deal said. In February, state revenue collections totaled nearly $10.6 billion year-to-date, an increase of $471 million or 4.7 percent compared to the same period last year.

Georgia is one of the few states in the country to have maintained a AAA bond rating, saving the state at least $11 million if it had been downgraded, said Deal. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in the state is at 9.2 percent, down from 10.3 percent in September, he said.

“We’re all at every level of government concerned with our economy,” Deal said. “But from the indicators that we have, our economy is slowly beginning to rebound from what truly is a global recession.”

Deal reported that there have been 467 new or expanded businesses, totaling $4.98 billion in new investments in the state, since he took office 14 months ago. That amounts to 29,517 news jobs in the state, he said. 

Deal touted the recent announcement of Illinois-based Caterpillar, which plans to create 1,400 jobs with the construction of a new manufacturing facility near Athens. He also reminded the audience of Lowe’s effort to build a new distribution center in Rome, which will bring 600 jobs in three years. Closer to Cobb, he mentioned the 700 jobs that Home Depot expects to create with a new national customer support center in Kennesaw. 

“Just hold on, there’s more to come,” Deal told the applauding crowd at Roswell Street Baptist Church in Marietta.

Reform of the criminal justice system ranks high on the governor’s to-do list, as he has charged a special council on criminal justice reform to overhaul the current prison system, which he said has incarcerated one in 16 residents. Deal wants to improve the rehabilitation rate and revise the punishment and guidelines for nonviolent crimes, moves he says will save taxpayers money. State Rep. Rich Golick (R-Smyrna) has already introduced a bill in the Legislature with similar measures.

“Hopefully, with the General Assembly, we will put those kinds of reforms that will make a difference to our communities and to our taxpayers, and to the safety of our state,” Deal said. “I want us to spend our money locking up those who are really the dangerous folks.”

What looks less certain this legislative session at the Capitol, is an effort by Republicans to change the state’s constitution to give the state more power to authorize and fund charter schools, after the Georgia Supreme Court ruled last May against the power of a state commission to approve charter schools denied at the local level.

The 36 Republican state senators need at least two Democrats to join them to form the two-thirds majority vote required to pass a House bill that paves the way for voters to amend the constitution.

Deal said on Saturday that he believes Republicans will remain unanimous and that the public will support the amendment, if given the opportunity to vote on it.

“I’m told we have more than 5,000 children currently waiting to go into an existing charter school and there are just not enough places,” he said. “So hopefully we will get that vote in the Senate and we will get it put on the ballot so the people of this state can vote on it in November.”

Between 500 and 600 people were expected to attend the Cobb GOP convention on Saturday. The purpose of the gathering was to elect hundreds of delegates and alternates to the district and state conventions, where it will be decided who will be among the 76 delegates from Georgia, tasked with nominating a presidential candidate at the Republican National Convention this summer in Tampa.

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Mar 11

Georgia's revenue numbers for February are up 7 percent and unemployment is down. We are moving in the right direction.

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Georgia’s total tax revenue increased 7 percent in February, boosted by sales tax, motor fuel tax and individual income revenues, the Georgia Department of Revenue reported Thursday.

The state took in $765.2 million in February, compared with $715.3 million in February 2010.

Sales tax revenue was up 10 percent top $412.2 million, while individual income tax revenue spiked 27.8 percent to $235.7 million and motor fuel tax revenue rose 14.2 percent to $81.5 million.

Corporate income tax revenue was down 346.2 percent to a deficit of $33.6 million, due to a higher number and amount of corporate income tax refunds.

“February’s numbers saw positive trends, as we continue to move in the right direction,” Gov. Nathan Deal said in a statement. “With revenues up and unemployment down, Georgians have to like what they’re seeing, even though there’s still much work to do.”

 

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Mar 08

 

Another piece from the AJC's series on sentencing reform highlights Gov. Deal's view that drug courts slow the growth in the state’s prison system, thus saving taxpayer dollars and lives. Dutch Nelson is an inspiration to Georgians struggling with addiction, and proof that drug and accountability courts work in our state. READ MORE

 

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Christmas was days away when Dutch Nelson reached rock bottom. The former high school football star and standout student was in the Cherokee County jail. In the preceding months, he had ruined his marriage, lost his job, abandoned his dedication to sobriety and reconciled with an old friend: cocaine.

In a matter of days, cocaine was once again running Dutch Nelson’s life. For those who have never been addicted, it’s hard to imagine how an educated, middle-class father of three with a Type A personality and a track record of success could chuck it all.

Think of it this way, he says: Compare it to a time when you’re starving. Not just hungry, but famished and dying of thirst. Multiply that many, many times over. Nelson said the compulsion to satisfy that kind of hunger is something close to what it’s like to be addicted to a powerful drug. It becomes the only thing that matters.

“What you have cherished, what has meant the most to you, what have been your most loved, prized possessions mean nothing to you anymore,” said Nelson, who has been sober again for 15 months. “It’s not you that is that person. But you become that.”

His cocaine compulsion became so powerful that Nelson went through all of his money, borrowed what he could and traded every valuable he had, including his fancy watches and laptops, for more drugs. When he had nothing left, he began to steal.

In no time, Nelson was facing charges in three counties and preparing to wake up on Christmas morning in a cell.

He went to a Bible study class with the jail’s chaplain, desperate for hope. “I am not a crying man,” he said. “But, oh my gosh, I just lost it. I lost it. I didn’t care that it was in front of all those men. I just lost it. I’m bawling like a baby and that’s my day — right there.”

That is the moment Nelson marks as his turning point. He says that is when he felt a deep, personal connection with God that was like nothing he ever experienced before. And he started to rebuild his life on that new foundation.

Nelson knew that he was facing prison time. But Fulton County offered him an alternative: drug court.

 

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