Education. Employment. Economy.
Speaking to Republicans in Forsyth County on Jan. 18, Gov. Nathan Deal made it obvious that while his campaign platform may have a lot of planks, those three “Es” will be the foundation of his re-election strategy.
And that’s not a bad foundation upon which to build the state’s future.
Deal already has made it clear that the top priority of his agenda for this year’s legislative session is to restore some of the funding that the state’s public education system has seen carved away in the budget cutting of recent years.
Deal has proposed increasing the money available for K-12 education by more than $500 million in the upcoming budget year. While that amount doesn’t offset the $7 billion or so lost through cuts to education spending over the past decade, it’s certainly a strong move in the right direction.
As important as the increased funding is the fact that the governor is proposing that most of it come to school systems without a lot of strings attached, giving school officials at the local level increased autonomy in deciding how the money should be sent.
“You’re going to see it manifest itself in different ways in different school districts across the state,” the governor told a crowd of fellow Republicans during his quick visit last weekend.
Such an approach certainly makes sense, considering the financial need in Forsyth County may bear little resemblance to what’s needed in Camden County, or anywhere else in the state.
Beyond education, the governor made it a point to talk about the state’s appeal to potential employers, and the importance of having an educated work force that can be trained quickly to provide employees for new jobs.
Deal noted that Georgia has been named the top state in the nation in which to do business, and spoke of the need to remain competitive in fighting for new jobs.
That, too, is tied to educational success, both in traditional academic arenas and in the specialized training available through the state’s technical schools.
Improved education means better jobs; better jobs assure a stronger economy. Given the woes of the past several years, the governor’s optimistic words about the direction in which we are headed are certainly encouraging.