Perdue lays out education initiatives at breakfast

Gov. Sonny Perdue rolled out several education measures this morning, calling for higher pay for math and science teachers and $10,000 bonuses for the best Georgia principals.

He also laid out the basics of new legislation that would allow the state to remove a local school board from power and replace members with local citizens.

Perdue, who spoke to more than 2,000 business people at the Georgia Chamber of Commerce's annual Eggs & Issues Breakfast in Atlanta, said Georgia produced only three physics teachers last year. To bump that number up, he proposed that new math and science teachers enter the Georgia teacher system at the fifth year of the pay scale.

He also called for $10,000 bonuses for principals who "consistently increase student achievement."

And though Perdue never mentioned the meltdown at the Clayton County school board in south metro Atlanta, he proposed changes in the way the state deals with dysfunctional school systems.

Perdue said he will ask the legislature to give the state power "not to take over schools, but to find responsible local citizens to serve on school boards when the existing members fail."

Perdue also hit on transportation funding, saying he would support Georgia Department of Transportation efforts to increase state funding for roads and other projects via "prudent, responsible" methods. He said he met recently with Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Speaker of the House Glenn Richardson, who are also speaking this morning, and all three agreed it was a priority.

But Perdue did not give funding details, signaling that consensus has not yet been reached on how to fund more transportation projects.

Perdue also called for tort reform this morning, saying he will support a new law to deter nuisance lawsuits. If cases are dismissed at "the earliest possible stage," than the person sueing, or their attorney, would be responsible for the other party's legal fees.

Perdue also said he'd like to delay discovery in civil cases "until the legal merits of a complaint have been tested."