Deal highlights raises, schools as budget hearings begin

ATLANTA (AP) -- Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal wants state lawmakers to include funding for a new program focused on training teachers to help students learn to read.

Deal's Tuesday appearance kicked off two days of hearings on his $49.3 billion spending plan. The plan, released Wednesday, seeks 2 percent pay increases for teachers and a 19 percent raise for employees overseeing child welfare cases.

Deal highlighted a request for $2.7 million to create a training center in middle Georgia aimed at improving educators' ability to teach reading. He says the relatively small investment will pay off.

Deal also urged lawmakers to leave the state's so-called "rainy day fund" intact. That account is up to $2 billion. Deal says the state's economy is strong but warned that reserve funds can disappear quickly in emergencies.

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