During his speech in front of nearly 700 attendees at Cobb Chamber of Commerce's First Monday Breakfast at the Galleria Centre, Deal stressed that attracting new companies is key to raising revenues.
To do this, Deal developed the Georgia Competitiveness Initiative, which will bring together his office, the Georgia Department of Economic Development and the Georgia Chamber to form an action plan for creating job retention and economic growth.
"Our purpose is to try to develop strategies that we can bring back to the General Assembly next year," Deal said.
Another of Deal's priorities is the HOPE Scholarship. Last week, the House overwhelmingly passed Deal's proposal that would continue giving full tuition funding to high school students who graduate with a 3.7 grade point average or higher and score a 1200 or greater on the SAT, but would only give 90 percent funding to those who fall within a 3.0 to 3.69 GPA. Many critics have said full funding would go only to a small portion of current HOPE recipients and that many students from low-income families would be harmed by the cuts. But Deal said his proposed changes are needed to save the program.
The Senate could hear the proposal on Tuesday.
"We never like to have to reduce programs of that nature, but the reality is, when your funding source is the lottery and the lottery has leveled off, the demand has continued to increase, you have to do something to keep the program alive," Deal said after the meeting.
As Deal said, "transportation is on everyone's mind." Deal said the totality of Georgia's transportation systems - including airports, rail system and the Savannah Harbor - are all important economic features for the state. To keep those systems intact and ensure the state continues to have transportation funding, Deal said it is important for the proposed Regional Transportation Tax to be passed. The tax is expected to go before voters in July 2012 and, if passed, would add a 1-percent sales tax to businesses in 12 metro Atlanta counties, including Cobb.
"I certainly think that it is a proposal that offers the most viable opportunity for us to have additional revenue into our transportation structure," Deal said.
After the meeting, Cobb Chairman Tim Lee said he was encouraged by Deal's plans for the future, and was especially excited to hear that economic development is one of Deal's top goals. Lee announced his own economic development plan last month during his State of the County Address.
"It's evident he has the state's priorities at hand," Lee said. "His emphasis on economic development is to see how the state can help counties such as Cobb to be more stable, and I look forward to the results of his efforts. That was really the most localized portion of his remarks as they pertained to Cobb. I like what he's doing."