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State Dems respond to Deal's speech
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Below is the Democratic Party of Georgia's response to Republican Gov. Nathan Deal's "State of the State" speech. The remarks were prepared by Democratic chairman Mike Berlon:

My name is Mike Berlon and I'm the Chairman of the Democratic Party of Georgia.

This morning, the Governor presented his State of the State Address along with his plans for fixing the significant issues that face all Georgians.

There were many points that were raised-from focusing on progress, improving education, fixing health care and creating jobs.

While these ideas are admirable in theory, this administration has done little in practice to make any of this a reality.

For the third straight year, we have heard the Governor tell the people of Georgia about how their lives will improve. For the third straight year, these promises are simply hollow.

The people of Georgia are concerned about their jobs, their homes and their families. Instead of improving the quality of life, the Governor's policies have done nothing more than widen the class divide and erode our middle class.

Frankly, Georgians deserve better.

Here are the facts.

Under the Governor's leadership over the past three years:

Georgia still has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country.

We also still have one of the highest rates of bankruptcy filings.

We lead the nation in bank failures.

Our schools have some of the lowest HS graduation rates in the country.

Our SAT Scores still rate consistently at the bottom of national rankings.

Many of our schools are facing serious accreditation issues.

We have one of the nation's highest poverty rates.

More than half a million Georgians have no health insurance.

The median per capita income in this state is less than $24,000. This means that half of the people in this state earn less than this amount per year. That's about $12.00 an hour. That's not a livable wage.

Women in this state earn less than men and fall below the national average in earnings.

The Governor's solutions are nothing more than very simple generic answers to very complex questions. We all want to succeed, but putting politics over the interest of the people has to stop.

Let me give you one perfect example. Today the Governor reminded everyone that he has chosen not to participate in what he calls "Obamacare". The official name is the Affordable Care Act.

His logic? That it would be too costly for the state and would cost about 4 billion over the next ten years. Here's what he won't tell you.

Under a Medicaid expansion - the federal government would pay 100 percent of the costs for newly eligible enrollees the first few years. Later that would fall to 90 percent.

The result: more than $33 billion in new federal money would flood into Georgia over that same ten-year period, while the costs would be less than four billion. It's simple math.

In addition, by having all of those eligible insured, hospitals like Grady and others around the state would have a method of being paid for services that they had to write off in the past. That alone would add millions back to state government that wouldn't have to be paid by the state.

Almost every single study that has reviewed the impact sees it as a distinct benefit, yet our Governor chooses to play politics instead of putting the interest of the people of Georgia first.

Fixing our economy and improving our quality of life here is hard, it's complicated and it's your job, Governor.

Fix it.

Governor, I encourage you and your administration to work with Democrats for the benefit of all Georgians. Democrats will fix education, we understand how to bring business to Georgia and we relate to average Georgians and their families who are working hard every day just to make end meet.

If you want to bring people together, improve their lives.

Its time find a real solution to the problem. Close the class divide in this state and put the people first.

Governor, I said it last year and I'll say it again. There is a difference between being outstanding and standing out.

Together lets make the real choices that will make Georgia outstanding again.

Georgians deserve better.