David Ralston has his new position, speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives, because of scandal fallout. So you might expect that he would address ethics in an Atlanta speech Thursday (2/11/09).
“We need to restore people’s confidence in our ability to do their business,” Ralston told an Atlanta Press Club audience. Ralston was sworn into his job in January after the resignation of Glenn Richardson, who confessed to a suicide attempt at the time there were allegations that he had an affair with a lobbyist pushing legislation that Richardson co-sponsored. “We need to learn from our own mistakes.”
Also on ethics, Ralston said the state government would be counting on the media to act as watchdog, and he noted that a 2005 survey out of Washington, DC, noted that Georgia’s governmental ethics policies jumped from 37th toughest nationally to sixth. “(Proper) behavior is not complicated,” he said.
Ralston is a Republican from Blue Ridge, GA, whose district includes several rural North Georgia counties. However, he said that “there are not two Georgias, only one,” citing Atlanta as an economic engine for the state.
He had to take a break from difficult state budget negotiations to make the Atlanta speech, and noted that “some things will have to be eliminated to balance the budget. … I’m jealous of Washington where they can print up money.” Citing education as a top priority, he wants “our children to be competitive in the global market.”
Transportation and energy also were briefly discussed, but there was no mention of jobs or economy. Atlanta continues to be hard hit, with unemployment around 10% and the state among national leaders in bank failures and home foreclosures.
Regarding transportation, Ralston plans to introduce a constitutional amendment to shorten terms for Georgia Department of Transportation members, who he said are “defying the law.”
Despite his statement on education, the Georgia House on Thursday passed an amended budget that adds furlough days for teachers.