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Political Insider

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Nathan Deal's campaign manifesto: 'We have only just begun'

Gov. Nathan Deal's campaign issued a credo to reassure supporters why he's seeking another four years in office and to counter the notion that his second-term agenda is thin.

The Deal Manifesto seeks to answer the first issue with its title - "Staying No. 1: It's Why I'm Running" - and tries to address the latter concern with a point-by-point review of his political agenda should he win re-election.

The document, which we uploaded into a PDF for you here, outlines a range of proposals that Deal has previously announced or previewed. But as his November matchup with Democrat Jason Carter and Libertarian Andrew Hunt nears, the governor wants to rally supporters behind his call to "to keep Georgia the No. 1 place for business and jobs."

"I'm proud of what I've accomplished working with the General Assembly these past four years, but we have only just begun," he said in the opening. "To stay No. 1, your team has to go out on the field every season and prove again and again that you're the best."

(The phrase "No. 1," by the way, shows up five times in the document.)

It's a counter to Carter's relentless focus on boosting education funding and improving transparency in government. At every campaign stop, the Democrat accuses Deal of systematically dismantling the education system by backing budgets that don't fully fund Georgia's education formula. Deal's campaign has mocked Carter's vow to pay for the increase by going after tax cheats and cutting government waste.

Deal's education plan would rewrite that decades-old formula and allow schools to better emphasize computer programming coursework. Left unmentioned are details of plans to give top teachers pay raises and empower the state to intervene in more struggling school districts. Also absent is mention of proposals surrounding the HOPE scholarship.

On transportation, he vows to begin work deepening the Savannah harbor, overhaul the I-285 interchange with Ga. 400 and bolster key high-traffic corridors in other parts of the state. It also includes the long-planned express toll-lanes for commuters on I-75.

He again hinted at a proposal to expand a grant program that pays for full technical school tuition for students in high-demand fields. (It's widely expected the expansion would include students in some film industries). And he would implement an initiative partnering the university and tech college system with private employers to hone classes.

Deal pledges to pass "major reforms" that would expand the ethics commission and seek to prevent conflicts of interest.  He would continue to press the federal government for block grant funding for Medicaid, which he said is essential to ensuring Georgia receive its "fair share" of federal healthcare funding.

Carter spokesman Bryan Thomas called the manifesto "rehash of small-bore election-year promises that don't even come close to addressing the major challenges facing Georgia families."

"The Deal Manifesto makes one thing clear: the governor has no vision for Georgia's future," he added.

The document wasn't entirely a reframing of previous policy announcements. He sharpened details on his next wave of criminal justice proposals, including a plan to boost transitional housing and job placement offerings for released offenders, bolster educational opportunities to those still in prison and establish more veterans courts for service members.

"The next goal is to give them the skills they need to keep a job so they don't return to a life of crime."

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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.