ATLANTA -- Georgia Health Sciences University should become one of the top 50 medical schools in the country, and Medical College of Georgia Hospital should become host of the state’s second nationally ranked cancer center.
Those are goals set by Gov. Nathan Deal in his State of the State Address Tuesday before a statewide televised audience and a joint session of the General Assembly.
“This is something we can do, and with your help, we will,” he told the lawmakers, who will begin consideration of his budget recommendations next week.
Georgia’s cancer-death rate exceeds the national average, he told them.
“I believe we have all of the ingredients necessary to be a destination for cancer research and a resource for every family battling this disease,” he said. “This designation would mean greater access to research dollars and enhance our ability to recruit top cancer specialists. Even more, it will place Georgians battling this horrific disease first in line for the newest, most promising therapies and clinical trials.”
He is recommending $5 million toward developing MCG’s cancer center. The state’s other nationally ranked center is Emory University’s Winship Cancer Center.
Additionally, he addressed the school’s need for residency slots at hospitals and clinics for recent graduates of the medical school to gain clinical experience as interns. He is recommending funds for 400 new slots across the state. He didn’t specify the dollar amount, and his staff doesn’t plan to release details until Wednesday.
“Presently, because we lack adequate residency program capacity, Georgia taxpayers help fund a promising young Georgian’s pre-K, K-12, postsecondary and graduate-level medical education only to see them perform their residency outside of our state and not return,” he said. “That doesn’t provide value for Georgians paying taxes. It doesn’t make sense for Georgians needing care and it isn’t fair to young Georgians looking to begin medical careers.”
Education was the main subject of his address. He is ending the cuts in recent years in education spending, adding money for growth for the kindergarten-12 grades, the University System of Georgia and the Technical College System of Georgia. That includes funding teachers’ pay raises based on experience and training.
He’s also holding HOPE Scholarships at the level of the current year while increasing pre-K by 10 school days, which will add about 4 percent to those teachers’ pay.
He asked lawmakers to fund $1.6 million for reading tutors and $8.7 million for charter schools that receive no local funds.
He also announced the Go Build Georgia initiative to use public and private means to train more workers in the construction trades, such as plumbers, carpenters and electricians. He didn’t provide details on how that would work.