ATLANTA — The Georgia Association of Educators stuck with its general habit of supporting Democrats and announced Wednesday it is endorsing Jason Carter for governor.

Carter, a state senator from Decatur, was unopposed for the Democratic nomination and is challenging Republican incumbent Nathan Deal. Also on the General Election ballot is Andrew Hunt, a technology entrepreneur who holds a PhD and 50 patents.
Carter’s wife is a teacher, but so was Deal’s wife as well as both of his parents.

GAE President Sid Chapman the nod went to Carter because he’ll pour more money into public education.
“He feels that unless we truly begin to invest in our public schools, our state will never have the economy or jobs that Georgians deserve,” Chapman said. “He understands that without strong public schools, prosperity for all Georgians will continue to be out of arms’ reach.”

Carter has made financing education the centerpiece of his campaign. For instance, in attacking Deal for the state’s unemployment rate in a conference call with reporters last week, Carter said his own economic-development strategy would be based solely on increased spending for education.

He has said he can hike spending without a tax increase by cutting waste in other parts of the government, even though would require a 15 percent reduction in everything other than healthcare, education and prisons to make a 10 percent boost to the allotment for k-12 schools.

One of his key proposals is to require legislators to appropriate education funds before considering any other aspect of state government such as transportation or law enforcement, a notion Deal terms an unworkable gimmick.

Carter and Chapman both said Deal had weakened public schools because, like all previous governors of both parties, his annual increases in the education budget were less than what the legal formula specifies based on enrollment and other factors.
“I welcome this endorsement and look forward to GAE’s help to win this election and our partnership to rebuild our schools,” Carter said

Deal’s spokesman Brian Robinson pooh-poohed the endorsement.

“Gov. Deal has increased education spending every year he’s been in office, even during the hard times of the Great Recession when most state agencies were still taking cuts,” Robinson said. “His budgets show education is his priority. Jason Carter agreed. He voted for all of the governor’s budgets until he decided to run for governor.”

Robinson notes that this during this year’s legislative session was the only time he voted against Deal’s budget.

“Ironically, this year he voted against more than half a billion dollars in new spending for schools, ending furlough days, raising teacher salaries and extending broadband internet service to every school in Georgia,” Robinson said.

While the GAE focused on overall education spending, many individual teachers are upset about increases in the premiums they pay for health insurance issued by the state. And many have also been critical of policies by Deal and other Republicans to give parents more choice on where their students attend by providing more resources for public charter schools.

“Gov. Deal’s administration has too often treated teachers as the problem, but we know they’re part of the solution,” Carter said.
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