Here’s Deal’s speech: End furloughs, preserve school year.

Here is a large chunk of Gov. Deal’s State of the State speech that he just delivered at the Gold Dome:

The address I deliver today is historically referred to as the State of the State. It is designed to convey my assessment of the condition of our State and its people with special emphasis on the budgets I present for your deliberation. With regard to our State and its citizens, I concur in the description found in the 1885 publication entitled The Commonwealth of Georgia, prepared under the direction of Georgia’s second Commissioner of Agriculture, J.T. Henderson, which poses the following question:

”In general productiveness, in salubrity of climate, in the incomparable blessing of good water, in facilities of transportation, in educational advantages, in the moral tone of her people, and the almost unbroken good order of society, what State of our day and generation can justly claim a happier condition or a higher civilization?”

Gov.Nathan Deal says he will end teacher furloughs and keep kids in school for a full year.

Gov.Nathan Deal says he will end teacher furloughs and keep kids in school for a full year.

It is comforting to know that the things which truly define who we are as a State and a people have changed very little in 126 years. With regard to our State budget, however, it must be adjusted to reflect the financial realities of today. Those realities, unlike the natural resources of our State and the character of our people, are constantly changing and the budgets I submit to you today reflect those changes.

Today I will present two budgets. The first is an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2011 budget, which was adopted by the General Assembly last year. Since our 2011 fiscal year began on July 1, 2010, we are approximately half way through the budget period. I am reducing the revenue estimate on which the budget is based by over $27.5 million. The primary reason for this reduction is that revenues from fees are lower than projected. Even though there are some signs of economic recovery, I do not believe we should spend additional revenue, if actual collections exceed the estimate. One of the driving principles behind these conservative budgets is a commitment to replenish the Revenue Shortfall Reserve, sometimes referred to as our Rainy Day Fund. I commend you for raising the authorized limits of the Fund last year. It will help protect our future budgets.

Although I am lowering the Revenue Estimate for the remainder of the Fiscal Year, I am also proposing that 1 percent of the Revenue Shortfall Reserve be appropriated for K-12 education. This will cover the Mid-Term Adjustment for QBE (Quality Basic Education) and the shortfall for Non-Certified Personnel health insurance costs.

An important part of these budgets is curbing the growth of the number of State employees. Downsizing is a process that began several years ago. Now we are adjusting the authorized position count downward and eliminating about 14,000 positions which effectively freezes State employment at current levels. That is a reduction of over 10 percent. Many politicians have long talked about reducing the size of the government. My friends, we are doing it.

I also believe we should redirect some of our budgeted spending. I am proposing that State Agencies reduce their spending on an average of 4 percent. The agencies are currently withholding at that level so it should be achievable. Those savings are necessary in order to replace the enhanced Federal Medicaid funds that will not be received, and address other critical needs such as funding for Disproportionate Share Hospitals, almost $20 million for the One Georgia Authority (which is an important tool for economic development in rural Georgia), and other important budget areas such as funding the settlement with the Department of Justice so that mental health patients and developmentally disabled individuals can be transferred from State hospitals into community service settings.

For the Fiscal Year 2012 budget I am setting the Revenue Estimate based on a modest 3.75 percent increase over the amended 2011 recommendations. The greatest challenge for 2012 is replacing almost $1 billion in the Federal Stimulus Funds that will not be available this year. In order to keep our budget in balance, State Agencies must reduce their spending by an average of 7 percent. These reductions are not uniform across agencies, but are designed to give priority funding to core responsibilities of State Government. My budget will have a net increase of $30 million in formula funding and no reduction in Equalization Grants.Earlier this school year, the Federal Education Jobs Bill directed $322 million to Georgia schools. Local school systems should have been able to set aside local funds to be used in FY 2012.

Both budgets make funding for K-12 education a top priority. Let me be clear: my budget will end teacher furloughs and keep students in school for a full school year. I view education as our number one economic development tool and there is no more forward-looking or strategic place to invest.

Georgia is one of only eight states in the nation with a Triple A bond rating by all three major bond rating agencies. I intend to maintain that rating.

My proposed bond package is less than $563 million which is approximately 50% less than bond packages in recent years. I urge you to join me in keeping our borrowingat a lower level than the past. I believe that is the wise course of action.
Let me highlight some of the projects I propose for bond funding: $231 million for K-12 construction, equipment and buses;$15 million for funding for STEM charter schools that focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics education, areas that are vital to our competiveness in the global economy; $46 million for reservoir development; $35 million for water and sewer infrastructure; $32 million for deepening of the Savannah harbor; $50 million for repairs and renovations in the University System, and $28 million for upgrades at our technical colleges.
My budgets reflect my commitment to preserving the HOPE Program. Since its creation, it has served over 1.2 million students and provided benefits totaling more than 5 billion dollars. It has also established the first state universal program for Pre-Kindergarten that has served over 1 million children.
Over the past several years, HOPE pays out more than the lottery brings in. In FY 2010, over $150 million of reserve funds were spent. In FY 2011, it is estimated that over $300 million of reserves will be needed and for FY 2012, over $400 million of reserve funds will be needed. If this pattern is not preserved by FY 2013 all of the reserves will have been expended and HOPE cannot meet its obligations.
If we are to save HOPE we must make programmatic changes during this legislative session. I am ready and your leadership has indicated they are ready to make those changes. My 2012 budget does not authorize HOPE expenditures beyond what the lottery produces; therefore, we must act now to maintain the Georgia jewel known as HOPE.

Before I close, I want to acknowledge that this period has held unique challenges for Georgians from all walks of life. I also know that this period has been particularly challenging for state employees and teachers and I want to recognize their excellence and professionalism in this difficult time. Everyone from teachers to police officers have been asked to do more with less and they have delivered.

That commitment to go the extra mile deserves our recognition. To all members of our State team: Thank you for putting in the extra effort and the extra hours to meet this challenge! Thank you for refusing to make excuses!

These are tough times, but the State of our State is strong. The economy has begun to stabilize and Georgia businesses are seeing the first signs of recovery.

We are now entering a new era of smaller government and greater personal responsibility. Government must pull back, but Georgians and our strong communities, big and small, have what it takes to fill the gap. Our State’s fortunes do not rise and fall with the size of government. I saw that last Saturday when Georgians from around the State rallied together for a Day of Service. Today, I am calling on all Georgians to support us in this time of transition.

Some may have lost optimism, but I have not. I believe that the citizens of this great State are ready to rally in this time to achieve great things…and to create a better Georgia. As elected leaders we must sound the call and demonstrate a new form of statesmanship. I call on all Georgians to support their elected officials when they make the tough choices to ensure our future prosperity.

I am confident that through working together we can put our people back to work, and educate our children for the jobs of the future. Then, we can ask as did our State leaders in 1885, “What State of our day and generation can justly claim a happier condition or a higher civilization?”

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

21 comments Add your comment

Dr NO

January 12th, 2011
3:23 pm

When will the layoff of State, County, City employees begin. Thats the only effective way to bring this budget shortfall in order AND motivate the lazy workers to do something other than show up late for work then sit and so nothing all day.

say what?

January 12th, 2011
3:23 pm

OK, the headline 14K state jobs to be cut was somewhat misleading. I got from his statement that this will be done through a hiring freeze.

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RBN

January 12th, 2011
3:43 pm

Will there be enough money to ofset the dramatic drop in local property taxes and the drop in expected ESPLOST receipts ? In other words, will we really avoid furloughs next year? Some school systems may be in good shape, but others are not. Mine has a $10 million debt for shortage in ESPLOST projections and a 13% unemployment rate in the community. Will the state step in with emergency funds to avoid furloughs?

justin

January 12th, 2011
4:06 pm

tax cuts, tax cuts, tax cuts, …

did I hear enough tax cuts???

Ernest

January 12th, 2011
4:15 pm

Interestingly in DeKalb, eSPLOST revenues have been higher than expected. I guess that means citizens are still spending. Property tax revenues are expected to decline as we see a further correction in housing prices.

The obvious question is, how does he plan to pay for this? Is there some new revenue source we are unaware of? Does he think he can cut his way towards funding these initiatives? Inquiring minds want to know.

catlady

January 12th, 2011
4:49 pm

Ms. Downey, have you seen today’s Ed Week? Wake County NC is debating giving SACS the figurative middle finger salute because they think Elgart is trying to dictate policy. Very interesting. In Georgia, that does not seem to have occurred to us.

Thomas Mann

January 12th, 2011
4:50 pm

Just because he said it, doesn’t make it so.

We will need some number crunching to understand if Deal’s budget end’s teacher furloughs. A related question is ending teacher furloughs but at what class size? Most, if not all, school districts increased class size to with cope with the dramatic funding shortfalls from the state.

I found this of interest:

“My budget will have a net increase of $30 million in formula funding and no reduction in Equalization Grants.Earlier this school year, the Federal Education Jobs Bill directed $322 million to Georgia schools. Local school systems should have been able to set aside local funds to be used in FY 2012.”

Interesting that Deal expected local districts to set aside local funds for 2012 because of federal stimulus but the State did NOT. Also, given the magnitude of the state cumulative state cuts the last eight years, who had funds to set aside? How could local districts set aside funds when the state consistently underfunded the Quality Basic Education Act? The State is NOT following the law it passed to fulfill the adequacy clause in the State Constitution. The gap grows bigger each year, and a trend that will continue with Nathan Deal. This means that more and more of education funding comes from local property taxes and this will cause larger and large disparities in educating funding per student across the state.

I also suspect that a net increase of $30 million does not make up for student enrollment growth, especially when you factor out the federal funds.

Typical to most politicians, I suspect Deal is saying one thing but really doing another. If education was a top priority, they could start by ending the plethora of tax breaks and redirect the revenue to education. The “extra funding” for education pales in comparison to the amount of lost revenue because of special interest tax breaks – so what’s really the top priority?

say what?

January 12th, 2011
5:25 pm

why not an education tax on large businesses, who get the large tax cuts (if they pay taxes at all), and then claim they want an educated workforce. Deal would not take that deal.

RBN

January 12th, 2011
5:44 pm

Enrollment growth is handled in mid-year budget, which he said he would fund this year.

Below the City

January 12th, 2011
5:54 pm

Way to Go, Governor Deal! Our county took TEN furlough days from us this year. Kids are only getting 170 days of class. We are only getting paid for 180 days. Six days last year. Four days the year before that. No furloughs… now that did make me smile!

College Student

January 12th, 2011
6:50 pm

The downsizing of government worries me only because my mother works for the government and she is deaf and we already are living with my grandparents. :/

MD

January 12th, 2011
6:57 pm

Before celebrating prematurely regarding education funding, it might be instructive to peruse the Governor’s proposed budget for FY12. The budget does not envisage restoring state and local education funding cuts made in FY09 and preserved through federal ARRA funding. Should ARRA stabilization funding terminate at the end of this fiscal year – as it is forecast to do – the result will be a $752,416,316 cut to K-12 education – approximately an eight percent (8%) reduction in FY11 K-12 funding. See page 176 of the FY12 State Budget Report.

More troubling still, virtually all of the ARRA stabilization funding for K-12 education is used for personnel costs . . . .

ScienceTeacher671 at gmail.com

January 12th, 2011
8:40 pm

All of the ARRA funding in our district, so far as we can tell, was used to add central office jobs.

re: HOPE, are they planning any legislation to require the Lottery Corp to pay the maximum amount to education, particularly before paying bonuses?

Nathan Deal Snowmaggeddon

January 12th, 2011
8:50 pm

Is that double-talk to shift blame?

shirley

January 12th, 2011
9:33 pm

Like Thomas Mann I wonder what the truth is about the new Governor’s proposal. Will our children and grandchildren suffer more cuts in educational programs and educational opportunity? Will our educators and school staff be expected to do more with less, when all the evidence teaches larger class sizes, fewer classroom hours of instruction and teacher preparation and higher college tuition and fees fail our children? There are reams of evidence that states that invest in education attract high quality jobs and businesses, promote innovation and have higher average household incomes. Governor Deal’s proposal seems to ignore all the evidence and continues the rhetoric of Governor Perdue and the state cuts to education that rob our children and our state of a hopeful future.

RBN

January 13th, 2011
9:42 am

So Maureen, budget analysis?

HS Teacher

January 13th, 2011
11:31 am

I heard no cost of living increase for a third consecutive year. I can not afford to go to work anymore.

Tcherlady

January 13th, 2011
3:30 pm

In Cobb, I am wondering if the EPS (educational program specialist) will go. They are useless.

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GaBlue

January 14th, 2011
9:51 am

I don’t find it comforting that Gov. Deal finds it comforting that little has changed around here in 126 years.