Gov. Sonny Perdue wraps up his second four-year term in just a few weeks.
In an exclusive interview with 13WMAZ Tuesday, he discussed issues he's handled during his eight years as Georgia's chief executive, including the overall state budget, cuts in education funding and reapportionment.
Perdue noted that five of the eight budgets he presented to the legislature had less revenue than the previous year. The governor said that meant cutting expenses throughout the budget for Georgia to comply with the state law requiring a balanced budget.
"I think as a nation, we're becoming more aware of the fact that for the future of our children and grandchildren, we need to live within our means," Perdue said. "Our motto within the State of Georgia, because of the balanced budget amendment, is that we're going to live within our means.
Throughout the lingering economic downturn, Perdue said state officials took cautious and judicious approaches in making cuts to make sure they remained solvent and functional.
Among those cuts was state educational funding, which prompted some to criticize Perdue's commitment to education.
But the governor points out that he has deep commitments to education. His wife is an educator and his mother was an educator. His uncle, David Perdue, served as superintendent of Houston County Schools.
With that in mind, Perdue said he did his best to keep education funding as high as possible.
"We certainly tried to protect education more than anything else," Perdue said. "We've cut most of our agencies in the 20 to 30 percent, sometimes more. We've tried to preserve education's, realistically, to as little as possible that we felt we can get by with."
When the 2000 U.S. Census was taken, Perdue was a state senator, serving a few Central Georgia counties, including Houston, Pulaski and Bleckley.
But the then-Democrat controlled General Assembly redrew district lines that cut Perdue out of his senatorial district. So instead of seeking re-election, Perdue ran for the state's chief executive office.
Now governor and finishing his second term, Perdue said the reapportionment process, which some say gerrymandered him out of a senatorial district, also gerrymandered him into the governor's office.
But Perdue said that wasn't what propelled him into the 2002 governor's race.
"No, I don't think so personally, although my district went from Kathleen to Covington, snake-like along the middle, south middle Georgia, up to really approaching I-20," Perdue said. "It wasn't that personal, it was really that impact across the state, not only my district, but districts across the state. I literally viewed it as diminishment of the democratic process."
Next year, the General Assembly will have to redraw districts lines to comply with the 2010 Census. Perdue hopes there won't be want a repeat of what happened when district lines were redrawn 10 years ago.
"My advice to the General Assembly that's Republican-led now, to Gov.-(elect) Deal, would be to be fair, to be contiguous, to be concise, to be compact and keep communities together where those districts can feel a kinship with communities within that district so that they can have common goals and be represented by someone that represents the views of the district," Perdue said.
On the second floor of the state Capitol, portraits of past governors hang on the walls. All of them are just portraits of the former governors, except Lester Maddox who has a picture of his wife on the table behind him.
In a few weeks, an official portrait of Perdue will hang from the second-floor walls. Unlike the others, Perdue has his wife standing beside him in his portrait.
"Because she's stood beside me for 38 years in everything I've ever done, and it was important to me. I had to insist. Mary is a very modest, demur person with a love of spirit about her inside and outside and most of the people have known that," Perdue said.
Perdue leaves office Jan. 10.