Deal delivers State of the State address

Deal: Another plan to fix state's ailing schools

ATLANTA -- Gov. Nathan Deal discussed his plans for education, the state budget and health care at the state Capitol in the annual State of the State address Wednesday. 

FULL TEXT | Gov. Nathan Deal's State of the State address

Photos | Gov. Deal delivers state of the state address

Deal, a Republican halfway through his final term, discussed his response to voters' rejection of a constitutional amendment allowing the state to take over low-performing schools. Up to this point, Deal had been quiet about an alternative plan focused on those schools.


Deal said he wants state lawmakers to expand mental health coverage for children younger than four in the state's Medicaid and PeachCare programs.

Deal also wants to allow pharmacists to dispense an overdose-reversing drug over the counter.

Deal said he will ask state lawmakers to expand mental health coverage for children younger than four in the state's Medicaid and PeachCare programs.

Deal also wants to allow pharmacists to dispense an overdose-reversing drug over the counter.

Deal announced a two percent raise for public school teachers, built into their pay scale.  But he also decried what he said was an increase in the number of chronically failing schools across Georgia--- 153 of them, up from 127 two years ago.  Affecting 89,000 students –  up from 68,000 last year. 

Last fall, the governor tried and failed to sell voters on a ballot measure to let the state take over failing public schools.

"It should be abundantly clear to everyone, including those in the education community who so staunchly support the status quo that this is unacceptable," Deal told lawmakers.

VERIFY: 11Alive's Matt Pearl checks out Deal's claims on education

Deal told reporters after his speech he’s considering a measure to allow students to transfer out of chronically failing schools.  Critics say it overlooks the causes of failure.

'There’s poverty, there’s health care, there’s so many different things that affect these children that are in these so called failing schools, it’s just not academic achievement," said Dr. Sid Chapman of the Georgia Association of Educators. 

Deal also said he would budget 19 percent raises for caseworkers in the state Department of Family and Children Services, which one leading Democrat praised as the highlight of the speech.

"It is critical we invest in our social work system and support our foster care children," said. Rep. Stacy Abrams (D-Atlanta), the House Minority Leaders.  "And the willingness to invest not a nominal sum but a nineteen percent increase in pay raises I think signals his strong commitment to these children."

Deal said he is also budgeting $50 million for a new cybersecurity training center near Augusta, calling it "a resource unlike any other in the country. This will solidify Georgia’s reputation as the Silicon Valley of the south."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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