Georgia Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle told area business leaders Thursday that the recent economic recession had a silver lining for the state.
“The beauty of an economic downturn is that it leaves you no other choice,” said Cagle, referencing the need for lawmakers to reconsider the essential needs for state funding.
“Government had to do that exercise. ... State government is now more efficient and more effective,” he said during the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce Post-Legislative Breakfast.
With the economy on the upswing, Cagle said lawmakers are refocused on growth and creating a Georgia more economically viable for job creation.
Other lawmakers at the breakfast meeting noted that the Legislature this year passed laws supporting efforts to deepen the Savannah River to facilitate increased shipping at its port, and eliminated taxes on energy used by manufacturers.
Such a measure provides an economic development tool to boost manufacturing business in the state.
“Manufacturing is coming back domestically,” Cagle said.
“As a percentage of value, America still leads the world in manufacturing,” he said, noting that “high-end goods” like planes and automobiles mostly still are made in the U.S.
In Georgia, Cagle said manufacturers like Mitsubishi and Caterpillar have or intend to build plants here.
To continue that growth, though, Cagle said the state needs better educated students to become a skilled workforce.
“Eighty percent of the workforce of tomorrow will need technical training,” he said.
To attain such a workforce, Cagle said a push is needed to create more charter schools, specifically college and career academies, which blend high school and technical college curricula.
“We have to abandon the one-size-fits-all model,” he said.
Lawmakers in March passed a constitutional amendment that would allow the state to establish charter schools over the objection of local districts. Voters will decide in a referendum on Nov. 6 whether to approve that change to the state constitution.