Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue delivered his State of the State address to a crowd of over 300 spectators; fifteen minutes after his speech ended, the Dodge Tour de Georgia raced down Main Street, hitting speeds of over 45 miles per hour.
Perdue was met at the Polk County Courthouse No. 2 by a large crowd of supporters.
The Governor was joined by his wife, Mary, and the two were greeted by several city and county officials when they arrived at 10:25 a.m. Thursday.
ccording to Perdue, his stop in Cedartown was on day four of what he called his accountability tour. “Democracy works best when you interact with people,” he said. “I want to be held accountable.”
Perdue was introduced by State Representative Bill Cummings, along with Doc Ayers, the Governor’s former football coach from his years at the University of Georgia.
Ayers was largely responsible for Perdue coming to Cedartown as part of the tour.
During his address, several key areas of local interest were highlighted from the recent Georgia General Assembly - including the new child protection legislation, education reform and job growth.
One of the first issues addressed in Perdue’s speech included recent changes to Georgia child protection laws.
He discussed a new child protection bill that will not tolerate abusive caregivers.
Also mentioned was the expansion of Levi’s Call – an alert sent out when a child is reported missing – as a large improvement, enabling these children to be located quicker.
He also lauded the efforts to bring back teacher authority in the classroom when dealing with disruptive students. Perdue stated that new education legislation would give teachers the flexibility they needed to meet the increasing high standards of education as well.
“We returned the classroom to the teachers with a strong school discipline bill,” Perdue said.
Perdue reiterated that the bill will take away the drivers licenses of disruptive students.
Education was a key part of Perdue’s address, as he said that a basic pay raise for teachers was passed.
“Nothing is more important, aside from engaged parents, than a qualified, experienced, committed teacher in the classroom,” said Perdue.
The Governor also said that high-achieving students of Polk County could count on the HOPE scholarship being available to them due to the recent measure that would require high school graduates to have a 3.0 grade point average instead of an 80 numerical average in order to be eligible from the state-lottery funded program.
Ethics reform was another topic Perdue touched on during his address when he emphasized that he believed people want open and honest government.
“You ought to know who is paying the money to pass the bills or to keep the bills from being passed on behalf of the people of Georgia. I insist on it, and we are going to get it done because you deserve it.”
Budget concerns were also weighing heavily on Perdue’s mind Thursday morning.
“The legislature worked hard on the budget but spent $90 million more than they have. It’s unconstitutional, it’s unbalanced and I’m not going to sign that kind of fiscally irresponsible budget,” said Perdue. “We are going to come back and get it right.”
Rounds of applause supported Perdue when he informed the crowd that the upcoming special session will quell budget woes.
“We’re going to come back [from the special session] and get that done and send you all a balanced budget that’ll take care of you folks.”
The Governor ended his address by stating that he would be back in Cedartown when the time comes to campaign for the next election.