Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signs state budget
ATLANTA — Gov. Nathan Deal has signed a $42.4 billion state operating budget, with improving revenues allowing the state to increase public education spending by hundreds of millions of dollars.
Deal signed the fiscal 2015 budget Monday, touting it as the largest single-year increase in K-12 funding in seven years.
Besides the additional education funds, the state will increase spending on some programs that help low-income individuals, steer another $35 million to the expansion of the Savannah port and dedicate more than $14 million to improving Georgia's emergency response system after a January storm left thousands stranded on Atlanta-area highways.
The budget also includes $17 million for a parking deck next to the new Falcons stadium. Paying off the debt will cost about $30 million.
Early voting starts in Georgia
All top statewide officials are up for re-election this year, and voters will be weighing who they would like to represent them in the U.S. Senate. Georgia's 14 congressmen also are running for re-election, and every seat in the Georgia General Assembly will be on the ballot.
The U.S. Senate race is one of the most closely watched in the country as Republicans seek to take control of the chamber away from Democrats. Seven Republicans and four Democrats are running for the Georgia seat, which opened when Sen. Saxby Chambliss announced plans to retire.
Early voting locations can be found on the Secretary of State's website, at http://www.mvp.sos.ga.gov. Early voting continues through May 16. The election will be May 20.
State increases graduation rate
NASHVILLE — A new report shows Tennessee is on pace to meet a goal of a 90 percent high school graduation rate by the class of 2020.
The report released Monday by the education advocacy group America's Promise Alliance shows the state increased its graduation rate 17 percentage points from 2003 to 2010, and has continued to make progress with a graduation rate of 87 percent in 2012.
America's Promise set the 90 percent goal for the nation in 2010.
The report also highlights Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam's free tuition plan at two-year colleges, saying other states should note Tennessee's efforts to increase access to college- and career programs and consider similar legislation.
Under Haslam's plan that passed during the recent legislative session, any high school graduate will be able to attend a two-year college free of tuition.
Burglar drenches home in bleach
ATHENS, Ga. — Athens-Clarke County police said a homeowner reported that a burglar did more than $20,000 in damage by dousing furniture and other items with bleach.
The Athens Banner-Herald reported the owner told police that nothing in the home appeared to have been stolen. The break-in was reported to police over the weekend after the homeowner returned after being gone for several days.
The police report said someone broke into the home on Wood Lake Place through a back door and dumped bleach on all the furniture inside.Police have not identified any suspects.