A Georgia Republican gubernatorial candidate says improving elementary reading skills is the top priority in his campaign.
Clay Tippins, a Cobb County businessman and former Navy SEAL, said he believes the state could shift $2 billion or $3 billion in the budget from less important areas to improving reading skills in the elementary grades.
"Two thirds of our third graders can't read at a third-grade level," Tippins said. "It's one of the best ways to predict how many prison beds we'll need in ten or 15 years and what a child's chances are in life."
Find those billions, Tippins said, and make a "full court press on third-grade reading."
He said some of the billions could also be used to improve some critical infrastructures areas, especially around metro Atlanta.
During a Tuesday campaign stop in Macon, Tippins also discussed legalizing casino gambling in Georgia, sex trafficking and medical marijuana.
Tippins said he opposes casino gambling because it sometimes encourages sex trafficking, which he called a horrible crime.
Tippins said he supports medical marijuana for people who need it and believes it should be grown and distributed in Georgia.
But Tippins said he's unalterably opposed to recreational marijuana.
Gubernatorial candidates will meet in the May 22 primary election.