by: Lori Geary Updated:
ATLANTA,None - Gov. Nathan Deal preached optimism instead of a message of cuts in his State of the State address Tuesday night.
For the first time in a long time, Georgians finally heard there's some new money in the state budget.
For commuters along Georgia 400 the governor wants to add another southbound lane from McFarland to the Chattahoochee River so during rush hour drivers will be allowed to use the shoulders.
Deal said there will be no cuts to education. He's also calling for another $4 million for the school nurse program and more than $8 million to keep charter schools open that were impacted by the courts.
"When we fail to invest in our youngest students, we are forced to spend money on remediation for the remainder of their academic careers," Deal said.
Deal said another $60 million has been set aside for teacher raises.
Even education groups found it tough to criticize the governor's message.
"We applaud Governor Deal for restoring those cuts," Calvine Rollins with the Georgia Association of Educators said.
There was also an emotional moment when deal talked about his criminal justice reforms, referring to a mother in the audience who beat a methamphetamine and cocaine addiction to win back her daughter and is now helping other addicts.
"I think what the governor has spoken to is how do we start making up for the ground we lost for the last decade? It's gonna take a long time for us to come back to where we need to
be. ... I'm pleased with the travel he wants to take us to," State Rep. Stacey Abrams, D-Atlanta, said.