Since taking office in 2011, Gov. Nathan Deal has led Georgia to become the No. 1 state in the nation for business for four years in a row – a first in Georgia history – and helped create more than 570,000 private sector jobs. In the last six years, Georgia’s job growth has outpaced the national average while its population has jumped from 10th to 8th nationally.
Through tax reform, workforce development initiatives and investment in education and infrastructure, the state continues to grow local small businesses and attract top companies from around the world. During Gov. Deal’s tenure, Georgia has become a global destination for companies in a wide range of industries. Under Deal’s leadership, Georgia has produced six balanced budgets, saved millions of taxpayer dollars by maintaining Georgia’s AAA bond rating and grown the Rainy Day Reserve Fund to more than $2 billion.
In order to keep up with a growing infrastructure demand, Deal implemented a number of investments in Georgia’s transportation system. Deal worked with the General Assembly on the Transportation Funding Act of 2015, which included a number of significant infrastructure projects and will generate $10 billion in new transportation funding over 10 years. Transportation projects under Deal have alleviated traffic and improved safety for a growing state, including the completion of the Jimmy DeLoach Parkway extension near the Port of Savannah. To track the progress of infrastructure projects, the GA Roads website was launched to provide unprecedented clarity and transparency in these investments. Georgia’s infrastructure projects and transparency measures are currently being used as a model for other states across the nation.
Georgia also leads the nation in criminal justice reform. When Deal took office, Georgia was in the midst of a criminal justice crisis, with high incarceration costs and recidivism rates. To address these issues, Deal implemented a series of bipartisan reforms that have already paid dividends by saving taxpayers $264 million and reducing the need for 5,000 prison beds.
These reforms include:
- Expanding access to Accountability courts to give new beginnings to nonviolent offenders with addiction or mental illness issues
- Providing judges with greater discretion in sentencing juvenile offenders and expanding community-based options across the state
- Removing barriers to employment, housing and education for rehabilitated offenders to give returning citizens a chance to rejoin the workforce and support their families
- Increasing access to educational opportunities in Georgia’s prison systems
Deal believes that education reform is the best criminal justice reform and a strong education system leads to a strong economy. Deal has made investments in education a top priority to strengthen the workforce pipeline that runs from the classroom to the job market.
- 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 worked closely with the General Assembly to save the HOPE Scholarship from bankruptcy to ensure its availability for future generations of college students.
- Deal expanded the HOPE Grant, a scholarship that pays 100 percent of tuition for students to attend technical colleges to learn skills that are in high demand for Georgia’s workforce.
- Deal established the REACH Georgia Scholarship, a public-private partnership that provides scholarships to promising middle school students from low-income families.
- Deal created the Education Reform Commission to provide recommendations intended to improve our educational system, increase access to early learning programs, recruit and retain high-quality instructors and expand school options for Georgia’s families.
- Deal also created the Teacher Advisory Committee, comprised of 90 educators throughout the state, to review recommendations from the 2015 Education Reform Commission in order to provide feedback for implementation.
A Sandersville native, Deal served in the U.S. Army at Fort Gordon in Augusta after graduating with college and law degrees with honors from Mercer University. He then began a private law practice in Gainesville, the hometown of his wife, Sandra Deal. While his wife taught in Hall County public schools, Deal began a career in public service, working as a prosecutor, judge, state senator and U.S. Congressman for Georgia’s 9th District. The Deals have four adult children and six grandchildren.
Watch the RGA’s American Comeback feature on Governor Deal: