During his eight years in office, Gov. Nathan Deal dealt with a wide range of policies and issues. How well did he do in meeting the promises he made? (DAVID BARNES / DAVID.BARNES@AJC.COM)

Did Nathan Deal live up to his campaign promises?

Gov. Nathan Deal made a range of campaign promises over his eight years in office. Here’s a closer look at some of the most significant pledges:


Vow: Called for modest increases in education funding and wanted to overhaul the 1985 school funding formula that he said had become outdated. Vowed to push for expanded charter schools, including exploring a Louisiana model that empowers the state to create charter school districts to improve struggling programs.

Verdict: He poured more money into charter education and fully funded the state’s school funding formula for the first time in more than a decade in his final year in office. He failed to rewrite the formula, however, and had to resort to a scaled-back plan to boost struggling schools after a broader initiative failed at the ballot box.


Vow: Promised to make it easier for students seeking high-demand skills to go to technical colleges. Pledged to maintain Georgia’s top-tier AAA bond rating and to promote workforce development initiatives. Vowed not to raise taxes.

Verdict: The state funded specialty workforce training centers for the film industry and other fast-growing niches, kept its AAA bond rating and enacted several tax breaks. He expanded tuition-free tech school programs and engineered a redesigned approach to workforce development.

Health care:

Vow: Told voters he would reject Medicaid expansion, which he said would inevitably cost Georgia billions of dollars, but said he’d seek additional federal funding for Medicaid so Georgia can receive its “fair share” without boosting state spending.

Verdict: He stayed true to his promise of rejecting an expansion, even as a growing number of fellow Republicans embraced it. But attempts to secure a federal waiver to beef up health care spending failed to gain traction as more rural hospitals fell into financial distress.


Vow: In his first term, he promised to cut costs to “save” the HOPE scholarship. In his second, he outlined plans to pay full technical school tuition through the scholarship for students in more high-demand areas.

Verdict: He reached a compromise with Democrats in 2011 that reduced the scholarship’s awards, though lawmakers returned to the program to restore some of the cuts. And he vastly expanded a HOPE grant program that paid tuition for tech school students in high-demand fields.


Vow: Deal aimed to start the dredging of Savannah’s port by the end of 2014 and pledged to focus on the highest-need transportation projects, such as overhauling the I-285/Ga. 400 interchange and adding toll lanes on congested highways.

Verdict: The dredging of the port is underway thanks to an infusion of federal funding. A new ribbon of toll lanes span metro Atlanta highways, and construction of the Ga. 400 interchange has begun. A pair of inland ports are in development, and lawmakers approved a package of taxes and fees that raises $1 billion annually to repair crumbling infrastructure. MARTA is preparing for its largest expansion ever, and a bus rapid transit system is planned for Atlanta’s northern suburbs.


Vow: Deal backed a proposal to overhaul the ethics agency, which he called “dysfunctional,” and allow the three branches of government to each appoint four members of the commission. He said he would also support increasing the watchdog agency’s funding.

Verdict: The proposal to overhaul the agency’s appointments didn’t get any traction, but Deal proposed significant increases in funding for the agency.


Vow: Deal’s proposal to cut the corporate income tax by one-third was included in recommendations made by a special council studying the state’s tax code. He also outlined other promises to spur economic development by cutting taxes and offering new incentives.

Verdict: Deal and state lawmakers never tackled the state’s corporate income tax, and he resisted broader tax cuts pushed by some Republican allies. He also backed a $1 billion annual package of taxes and fee hikes to fund infrastructure repairs. But he approved reductions to the state income tax in 2018 after a $1.5 trillion federal tax cut helped boost state revenue. Other tax cuts include eliminating the state sales tax on energy used in manufacturing and reinstituting a tax break on jet fuel, a move that Deal coveted and that helped Atlanta’s hometown Delta Air Lines.

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