Governor Nathan Deal is making public safety and crime one of his top priorities. The former Juvenile Court Judge from Hall County took the oath of office Monday afternoon, then launched into a get-tough talk. “Presently 1 out of every 13 Georgians is under some form of correctional control,” he said. “It costs about 3 million dollars per day to operate our Department of Corrections. And yet everyday criminals continue to inflict violence on our citizens, and an alarming number of the perpetrators are juveniles.”
The new governor warned that “breaking the culture of crime” is not just the role of law enforcement. “Parents must assume more responsibility for their children. Communities must marshal their collective wills. Civic and religious organizations must use their influence to set the tone for expected behavior.”
Deal did not give many specifics about his crime-fighting agenda, but he did touch on how the state handles non-violent drug offenders and suggested they would benefit from more probation and treatment programs. “As a state we cannot afford to have so many of our citizens waste their lives because of addictions,” he said. “It is draining our state treasury and it is depleting our work force.”
On education, the Governor said the public system is failing, and it is hurting efforts to recruit new business to the state and contributing to crime. He promised to address the state’s high dropout and low graduation rates. And he called on the General Assembly and the State School Board to “work with me to restore discipline in our schools, eliminate bureaucratic nonsense, adopt fair funding mechanisms and reward quality and excellence.”
Deal got a standing ovation when he promised to save the HOPE scholarship program from running out of money. “I am dedicated to honoring the promise that has been made to our students through HOPE, and will work with the general assembly to tailor the program to the financial realities that we face today. “
The event relied heavily on family, from the tone of the Governor’s speech to the role his own family played during the inauguration ceremony. Daughter Katie sang Georgia on My Mind and son-in-law Chris sang God Bless America. The Governor’s son Jason Deal, a Superior Court Judge, administered the oath of office with First Lady Sandra by his side.