Political Insider

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What to expect from Nathan Deal’s State of the State address

Gov. Nathan Deal will deliver his State of the State address on Wednesday at 11 a.m. in the state House chambers. The governor usually uses the speech to lay out the specifics of his policy agenda, reveal his top budget priorities and, sometimes, to warn lawmakers what to avoid.

Here’s what we know:

Education: The governor plans to put the full weight of his office behind a measure that would give the state more power to intervene in persistently struggling schools, even after voters resoundingly defeated a constitutional amendment that would have given his office the authority to do that. It likely means that Deal’s other major education initiative – fulfilling a campaign promise to overhaul the school funding formula – is sidelined for another year. Read more here.

Cyber-Security: The governor will unveil plans for a new state-owned training center that’s designed to teach students and educators how to combat hacking and other forms of cyberwarfare, an announcement that comes as the U.S. intensifies its efforts to bolster the security of the nation’s computer systems. Read more here.

Health policy: Deal has struck a cautious note on healthcare policy after Donald Trump’s victory, urging lawmakers to take a wait-and-see approach over how the new administration will tackle the Affordable Care Act before taking action. Read more here.

Religious liberty: He’s hardly mentioned the “religious liberty” debate since his veto of the controversial legislation in March, though he’s maintained that his opposition hasn’t changed. This time, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and House Speaker David Ralston seem on the same page. Read more here.

Campus carry: He hasn’t closed the door on another divisive proposal he vetoed last year: campus carry legislation that would allow college students to carry concealed guns onto campuses. That veto came only after lawmakers defied his personal request for exceptions, and Deal sounded receptive – as long as it included some of the changes he wanted. Read more here.

Budget: The state’s rainy day reserve fund has now exceeded $2 billion and is on track to hit $2.5 billion when Deal leaves office. The governor said the state’s 3.6 percent budget growth this year will leave little room for maneuvering. Read more here.

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.