ATLANTA - The state of Georgia has its eye on a plot of property near the Georgia World Congress Center for future development, Governor Nathan Deal said Thursday afternoon.
Governor Deal sat down with 11Alive's Jeff Hullinger for a one-on-one talk only days before the state's legislative session was set to begin.
The acquisition of land near the World Congress Center would open the door to several possibilities for development - including the construction of an outdoor stadium to be used by the Atlanta Falcons.
"We're putting in $15 million in this current budget proposal, in bond proposals, for the acquisition of additional land adjacent to the World Congress Center property," Deal said. "Whether it's an outdoor stadium or other purposes, we believe it would be a wise investment for the state of Georgia, to acquire that property for future uses."
"That will be something that makes the Falcons organization have a big smile," Hullinger remarked.
"We shall see," Deal said.
Gov. to propose merging some agencies
In a separate interview with the Associated Press Thursday, Deal said he will propose the consolidation or elimination of some state agencies in his 2013 budget proposal, looking to further trim state government.
Deal said he expects the moves will save money and acknowledges the likely loss of some public sector jobs but didn't offer specifics. Deal will present his 2013 budget next week to state lawmakers, who will be gathering for the start of the legislative session.
Among the changes Deal is proposing the elimination of the state Personnel Administration, which oversees the state's human resources.
Deal also wants to privatize Georgia's aviation services and sell some of the state's aircraft. He also wants to transfer the Sexual Offender Review Board to a new division at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
Deal looks to add 10 days to pre-k
Deal says he wants to add 10 days to the state's prekindergarten calendar this fall, restoring half of the days he cut to help save the program in 2011.
Deal told The Associated Press in an interview Thursday that he wants to increase the number of days 4-year-olds are in lottery-funded pre-k, which will raise teachers' salaries by about 4 percent. The move means the state will have 2,000 fewer slots for children, or about 84,000.
State officials say not all of the 86,000 slots for pre-k were filled this school year. The move has to be approved by state lawmakers, who gather Monday for the start of the legislative session.
Improved odds for Newt Gingrich
Gov. Deal says Newt Gingrich's momentum will pick up once he heads South.
Deal, who endorsed the former Speaker of the House early in his campaign, told The Associated Press on Thursday that Gingrich's chances for a Republican primary victory should improve significantly in the South Carolina contest set for Jan. 21.
Even if Gingrich doesn't win South Carolina, Deal says he will likely stick around for the Florida primary on Jan. 31.
Deal also says he does not believe that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's Mormon faith will be a factor for Georgians voting in the Mar. 6 primary. Deal says "Georgians are very tolerant people" and says the state has a significant Mormon population that should not make Romney's religion an issue.
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