Lt. Governor Cagle Addresses 2018 GA Chamber Eggs & Issues Breakfast

January 10, 2018

For five consecutive years, under Governor Deal’s leadership, Georgia has been recognized as the #1 state for business. This accomplishment, however, would not be possible without the businesses represented here in this room. During these 5 years, we have added more than 500,000 jobs.

And because of our strong partnerships, and the Chamber’s commitment to investing in our state’s workforce, our economy has never been better positioned – to grow and reach new heights.

Looking around, it is clear – we have never been more connected.

We will move forward together, tackling the issues facing our state with an even stronger vision.

Throughout my time as Lt. Governor, the driving force behind our state’s success has been rooted in transforming our public education system.

Ultimately education drives our economy. It defines who we are. When education is aligned with industry needs, we see a pipeline that will create a workforce second to none.

To do this, we must build strong partnerships with businesses, offering more high school apprenticeships, more industry certification programs, and more dual enrollment for associate degrees, so every student has the opportunity to enter the career field they choose, with little to no debt.

Just last month, Georgia awarded $9.4 million dollars in grants for three new College and Career Academies.

When I think about the future we are building for our students in education, and in turn, what that means for communities across our state – especially in rural Georgia – I see a clear pathway to grow our economy more than we could have ever previously imagined.

That’s why I’m so committed to fighting to give every student access to a college and career academy by 2020. We already have over 30,000 students enrolled in 43 college and career academies, and this year – we will take action to give thousands more this opportunity.

Not only is education the great equalizer, it is also the answer to many of the greatest challenges our state is facing.

Governor Deal will always be remembered for his leadership on criminal justice reform – setting a national standard – and we know that nearly 70% of the individuals in our prisons didn’t graduate from high school.

We know that there is dignity in work, and opportunities for career training will allow individuals to earn competitive salaries instead of relying on public assistance.

Data that shows for every student who successfully graduates from high school, instead of dropping out, tax payers will see a net savings of about $127,000 over that individuals’ lifetime.

Most importantly, if we believe in conservative values and that our families are the bedrock of our society, it seems clear to me, we must make certain that ladders of opportunity extend to every community, and every person, across our state – especially throughout rural Georgia.

The best way to do that is with an education system that prepares all our students for a career that jumpstarts their future.

I’m obviously passionate about education because unless we create a value proposition for every student, we will fall short. But there are a few other observations I’d like to make:

Over the past five years, Georgia’s manufacturing exports have increased by more than 35%.

The growth of our state’s manufacturing industry has surpassed the national average every year since 2012.

Last year, our state was the world’s #1 location for feature film production.

This all signifies a diverse economy.

Generating billions of dollars in economic growth has a multiplier effect across our communities, increasing incomes and extending greater opportunity to more Georgians. And we are only beginning to scratch the surface of our state’s potential.

Five metro areas currently command more than 70% of our nation’s venture capital investment.

To give Georgia a greater share, I launched Invest Georgia, which supports new funds to provide tech companies across our state with the valuable capital they need to grow.

I’ve committed to increasing Invest Georgia’s resources so that our state becomes a leader, recognized, and sought out nationally for our venture capital presence. Last year our successes were felt with the growth of the largest venture fund in Georgia’s history.

To extend this same level of economic success to rural communities, one of my top priorities this session will be to advance a comprehensive rural broadband strategy. You don’t have to be in Atlanta to do business with Atlanta. We’re no longer bound by bricks and mortar. Rural broadband is essential for all small businesses, and it is the first step to creating hubs of innovation in downtown rural communities – across every corner of our state. 

Rural broadband will also be a critical component of improving the availability of telehealth services for patients across our state.

Health care is another critical area where the Senate will lead during the 2018 legislative session. Across our state, health care costs are too high – and increasing by too much, too quickly, while access and choices for care are far too limited. While there is no silver bullet, we have put forward a bold and aggressive statewide strategy for health care reform that reduces costs and increases access to quality care.  

This is the beginning of a long-term strategy to increase the performance and sustainability of our health care system. To advance a bold vision for reform, we will create the Health Coordination and Innovation Council and the Health System Innovation Center. Our immediate priority has to be in our rural communities confronting hospital closures, workforce challenges, and limited access to primary and preventative care. By bringing together our state’s health system, under a clear vision for the future, we will lead the way to better quality and more affordable care statewide

Last year, in our state alone, there were more than 1,400 drug overdoses. Estimates show that 180,000 Georgians are struggling with opioid addiction. During the 2018 Legislative Session, I will work with stakeholders to advance community-based solutions – focused on prevention, treatment, and recovery – to defeat this very real crisis. 

We will also address the needs of our local law enforcement officers, who have shouldered so much of the burden of the opioid crisis, by acting on the recommendations of the Compensation of Police and Sheriffs Task Force. It’s important we work together with our city and county governments to attract and keep good people in law enforcement.

Connectivity, classroom excellence, and access to capital will create a rising tide that lifts all boats. 

I look forward to the joint efforts of the Governor, the House, and the Senate to bring greater economic opportunity to all of Georgia – especially our rural communities. Together, we will advance legislation on the most important issues facing our state.

It’s an honor to serve with you.

Thank you. God Bless you. And God bless the state of Georgia.