Gov. Nathan Deal touts Georgia’s growing economy to budget writers

Gov. Nathan Deal and the state’s chief economist expressed optimism about Georgia’s economy as it heads into the upcoming fiscal year.

“We have good news in Georgia,” Deal told legislative leaders as they began hearings on the fiscal 2018 budget this week. “We have brought the state a long way in a short time.”

Ken Heaghney, the state’s fiscal economist, said the economy is at near full employment and that Georgia added about 99,000 jobs in the past year.

He said tax collections are ahead of what’s needed to fund the state budget, with income growing and Georgians spending that money, meaning higher sales tax collections.

“The key components of our economy are growing really well,” Heaghney said.

He said job growth has been highest in Athens, Savannah and Atlanta, while some rural areas have seen little growth.

Lawmakers will spend the next few days reviewing the $25 billion state budget proposal Deal announced last week.