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Tuesday, December 14, 2010 - 12:47pm

Deal Hints At Priorities

Governor Elect Nathan Deal did not have specifics when he spoke to lawmakers in Athens Tuesday, but he hinted at a few issues that will get his attention.

At a pre legislative conference at UGA's Carl Vinson Institute, state lawmakers were eager to hear from the governor elect for the first time. But he wasn’t quite ready yet to show his cards.

“Now I must admit when I came in I sort of had a feeling like one of those Department store Santa Clauses and all the children are clamering around to see what’s in the bag," he said at a luncheon. " I’m not going to tell you. I don’t want to spoil your Christmas.”

Lawmakers broke out in laughter, but jokes aside, they know come January they will be faced with balancing a budget that is more than one billion dollars short in a state that has almost 10 percent unemployment. Deal made one prediction. Anything the state does, he said, must grow jobs.

He also wants to protect the Hope Scholarship, which he says is in trouble.

“There are problems in the larger universe of education. And one of them is the hope scholarship “

If nothing is done, Deal warned, the popular scholarship program will run out of reserves by the fiscal year 2013. But the Governor Elect stopped short of saying what changes he’d like to see addressed during the general assembly session which begins January 10th.

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