This article appeared in the August 2018 issue of the Georgia's Cities newspaper.
GMA Executive Director Larry Hanson presents the Key Citizen Award to Gov. Nathan Deal.
Gov. Nathan Deal received the Georgia Key Citizen Award during GMA’s annual meeting in Savannah on June 25. This award is GMA’s highest form of recognition.
The Georgia Key Citizen Award has been presented to all former GMA executive directors and several Georgia governors, state legislators and other distinguished leaders.
GMA Executive Director Larry Hanson presented the award and personally thanked Gov. Deal for working so closely with GMA during the past seven and half years of his administration.
“Shortly after you took office, I recall you saying at the 2011 Mayors’ Day Breakfast that you viewed cities as vital partners with state government. Your actions and policies during your tenure as governor certainly confirm that you meant what you said,” Hanson said. “You have been open minded to municipal officials’ concerns and always demonstrated a keen understanding that the future prosperity of our state and our cities are mutually linked.”
Hanson went on to cite many of the Governor’s successes including the production of seven balanced budgets, maintaining the state’s AAA bond rating and growing the Rainy Day Reserve Fund from $116 million to $2.3 billion.
“Through tax reform, workforce development initiatives and investment in education and infrastructure, he has led Georgia to become the number one state in the nation for business for five years in a row and helped create 650,000 private sector jobs,” Hanson said.
He also noted several of the economic development projects spearheaded by the Governor including the creation of a world-class cybersecurity center in Augusta, the location of Caterpillar’s $200 million production facility near Athens that will employ 1,400 people by 2020 and create another 2,800 jobs indirectly, the location of Facebook’s new $750 million data center near Covington and Social Circle that will create at least 100 full-time jobs, and the location of State Farm’s 2.2 million square corporate headquarters in Dunwoody that will house 8,000 employees, making it the largest corporate office project in metro Atlanta’s history.
Hanson continued, “As his administration has focused on bringing economic development to all of Georgia, Gov. Deal also deserves great credit for recognizing the important role local governments play in accomplishing this goal. Early on in his tenure as governor, he fulfilled a campaign pledge to repeal the sales taxes on energy used in manufacturing. But understanding the fiscal impact of this change on local governments, he worked with GMA to ensure that local governments had the ability to choose to implement a local option excise tax at the same rate.”
“Recently, Gov. Deal also supported legislation to establish the Atlanta-region Transit Link (the “ATL”) regional transit agency to coordinate transit in Metro Atlanta.”
“Among many other things, Gov. Deal supported HB 61 this past session to require collection of sales taxes by Internet corporations selling goods to Georgia consumers. This legislation levels the playing field for retailers on ‘Main Streets’ in cities all across Georgia,” Hanson said. “Notably, Gov. Deal worked closely with GMA to pass into law HB 146 to provide Georgia’s brave firefighters with cancer insurance at a reasonable cost to taxpayers.”
Hanson also applauded the Governor’s Criminal Justice Reform efforts, resulting in Georgia seeing the lowest number of overall prison commitments since 2002, and, from 2008 to 2016, experiencing an overall reduction in crime by 24 percent. Also, the number of individuals under probation supervision has steadily decreased since the enactment of last year’s reforms.