Nathan Deal takes a victory lap at business breakfast

Gov. Nathan Deal in January of this year. Bob Andres, bandres@ajc.com

Gov. Nathan Deal. Bob Andres, bandres@ajc.com

There were no new sweeping policy initiatives, no grand pronouncements from Gov. Nathan Deal at Tuesday’s annual business confab.

And there was no mention – even oblique – of the “religious liberty” bill he vetoed last year that made him a savior to some business leaders, and a pariah to some conservative activists.

Instead, the governor took a victory lap at the Georgia Chamber’s Eggs & Issues breakfast, proclaiming the state’s 10-year, $11 billion transportation plan an early success and trumpeting the state’s pro-business accolades.

He told the crowd of hundreds of politicians, executives and lobbyists the state’s rainy day reserve fund has now exceeded $2 billion and will likely hit $2.5 billion when he leaves office in two years. But he warned that the state’s 3.6 percent budget growth this year still leaves little room for maneuvering.

“Eighty-three percent of our budget is growth-mandated and required spending,” he said. “That leaves only 17 percent of our budget for discretionary spending – a difficult circumstance when one considers all the demands and desires of how that limited money should be spent.”

He outlined a new Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center, which he called “another tool in our arsenal for security and economic development.”

“This will be a state-owned facility designed to promote modernization in cybersecurity technology for both private and public industries,” he said, holding back on more specifics for now.

The governor left new details of his policy initiatives – he’s said his top priority is pushing a new failing schools initiative – for his State of the State speech on Wednesday.

His short address finished with an optimistic note about the state’s economic future.

“Let us continue to walk this road of success that we have traveled together,” he said. “If we do, I can assure you that my report to you next year will be even more pleasing.”

Read more: Deal to maintain focus on failing schools plan for 2017


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