Deal also said education has to remain a high priority
"We have to do better. We owe it to our children, and we owe it to the future of this state to be better," Deal said, noting that the state ranked 44th in graduation rates using a new method of calculation.
Health care is also a major challenge, Deal said. The new federal health care law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, has direct costs to the state, including extra funds needed for mandatory screenings and the inclusion of children up to age 26 on their parents' health insurance, Deal said. Those direct costs added up to about $7 million in the fiscal year 2013 budget and will increase to about $42 million in the fiscal year 2014 budget, he said.
The legislative training conference held every two years in Athens aims to provide information, training and networking opportunities for both new and veteran lawmakers. This year it included information sessions on the budget, juvenile justice, job creation initiatives, and health care, among other topics.
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