It was a rare occasion to have the Governor right here in our backyard telling us about the goings on in the state.
It was promising to hear that there are good things on the horizon and that there are plans in place to keep the ball rolling. Despite being forced to make some really difficult cuts the state has managed to maintain a balanced budget.
Whether or not you agree with Gov. Nathan Deals politics that is something that should be admired and expected from elected officials. Not the nonsensical finger pointing that happens on both sides of the aisle in Washington.
In the coming years Deal has placed his sights on reforms to the criminal justice system and our education system.
Some of Deals plans for the criminal justice system include lowering the states prison population - which ranks fourth in the nation, even though the state ranks tenth in overall population. Those numbers just dont add up and Deal wants to fix that.
One of his plans includes prison alternatives, like the drug and DUI courts.
These are [programs] where we can deal with these individuals under intense supervision that is much less expensive than [incarcerating] them, Deal said.
These programs have shown a lot of success in counties around the state and right here in Dawson. Deal mentioned going beyond drug and DUI courts to other accountability courts that could monitor people while allowing them to continue to be a contributing member of society.
We need to lock the ones were scared of up and the ones were just mad at, weve got to figure out a better way to deal with [them], he said.
As far as his plans for education, Deal talked about wanting to help kids find the right path. He specifically talked about dual enrollment programs - which allow students to take class at the college level, while still enrolled in high school. Part of the governors plan calls for the education system to better distribute students to fields where they are best suited.
Deal sees dual-enrollment as a way for kids who are either bored or uninterested in school to learn a skill or find something they are passionate about.
Dual-enrollment can help find out if a child has a particular aptitude and wants to pursue it, he said.
This could potentially be a great way for the state to move forward and improve student achievement. Global competition isnt going away and we need to give our students every advantage we can.
The future looks bright for our state, but its going to take a lot hard work and hard decisions down the road. We hope that our elected officials are ready for the job and are prepared to work together for the good of their constituents as we move forward.