ATLANTA, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) -- Governor Nathan Deal spelled out four foundations he want the Georgia General Assembly to keep in mind as the move through the 2013 session: education, public safety, health care, and economic development.
"This year let's concentrate on the things we can all agree on. the foundations that improve the lives of our citizens," said Governor Deal.
State Representative James Beverly believes in Deal's pledge to spend $231 million dollars in the fiscal year 2014 budget to widen the port of Savannah.
"Deepening the ports in Savannah is going to bring more freight. I think Macon is poised to do very well," says Beverly.
Beverly is concerned about health care. Governor Deal's more than $19 billion dollar budget will not include Medicaid eligibility expansion. That means about 500,000 Georgians will miss out.
"We just have to, just as a state, think of health care in preventative terms," says Beverly.
Prevention is what Governor Deal wants to focus on in the realm of public safety. He's pumping $5 million into community based programs to keep juvenile offenders from ending up in the system as adults. State Senator Cecil Staton says this is what communities in middle Georgia, and across the state need.
"We want those people to be productive citizens, we want their families to be whole. It doesn't serve any purpose to just have an ever-growing corrections system... so we've got to catch that and work on that at the front end," says Staton.
Governor Deal believes one way to keep those kids out of trouble is to get back to the basics: education. While other state agencies were asked to slash their budgets by 3%, education was increased. Deal pledged an additional $156 million to enrollment in grades K-12.
"We must not let our children fall behind for that is a path to remediation and delayed success," says Governor Deal.
Good news for the Hope Scholarship Foundation. Deal pledged to increase that fund to $600 million in 2014, and also set aside more scholarship money for students studying at technical colleges.