It was an emotional day for Governor Nathan Deal at the Georgia State Capitol on Thursday morning as he gave one of his last addresses to the House and Senate.
Deal's last State of the State lasted more than a half hour as he touted his accomplishments in criminal justice reform and education spending.
The Governor wasted no time highlighting his accomplishments in his seven years in office.
He mentioned the state’s growing film industry, business development, and education spending in the state. At one point, he proudly stated Georgia had just been named the best state to do business for a fifth year in a row.
But Deal also stressed the creation of accountability courts in the justice system.
“Individuals whose lives were once controlled by addictions are now able to reclaim forfeited potential, reconnect with their children, retain employment, and contribute as taxpaying citizens,” Deal said.
Some of Central Georgia's state delegation called that a step in the right direction.
“I certainly am in favor of the accountability courts, I think that anything that keeps us, keeps our population out of jail when it's a non-violent crime. I think we need to support all measures such as that,” said Macon’s Democratic representative Miriam Paris.
The issue has support across the aisle.
“It's certainly in its early years, but it has removed some of the things that would ordinarily fall under the court system that is pretty busy as is and free up some time along those lines,” said Bonaire Republican Shaw Blackmon.
Blackmon also gave strong support to Deal's focus on technical colleges and putting people in skilled-tech jobs. Deal and Blackmon emphasized that 99.2 percent of students in those tech schools and colleges across the state find employment in Georgia after graduation.
Blackmon continued, saying Deal gave a great speech and thanking Deal's wife, Sandra, for her service.
Paris said she hopes Deal focuses more education spending on paying teachers and classroom equipment that she said was needed in the state. She also expressed concern about Georgia’s income inequality in light of continued economic development.
Paris also said the speech was a good opportunity for Deal to go over his accomplishments and long career of public service in Georgia.
And for the Governor, the speech offered an opportunity to start emotional goodbyes.
“In a little over a year’s time, Sandra and I will depart from public life after almost four decades of service to the people of the state,” Deal said, while choking up.
At one point, Governor Deal joked that this wasn't his obituary, but the crowd could tell he was getting emotional giving his last State of the State, as he had to stop several times due to emotion. Especially, when talking about his wife and Georgia's First Lady, Sandra Deal. The First Lady did receive two standing ovations during the speech.
He mentioned her time spent working with Georgia’s children, as well as her work in education.
Governor Deal also made sure to tout his work on the Georgia HOPE scholarship, highway and transportation improvements, public safety, and proposed spending on mental health.