Attended the Georgia Chamber's Eggs & Issues session this a.m. with folks from the Athens Chamber. I will try to post a comprehensive recap later, all I have time for now are some quick impressions:
- David Ralston, the new speaker of the house, looks to be a calming influence. He and the Governor and Lt. Governor seem to have a good rapport. It was refreshing to hear someone practical and modest speak (I will never forget Glenn Richardson's "I've been poisoned" remarks from two years ago), who was also optimistic about solving our transporation and water woes.
- Both Ralston and Gov. Perdue said they are hopeful we will have a tri-state water compact by the end of the session that will allow Atlanta access to Lake Lanier.
- Governor Perdue hinted at transportation funding ideas, but gave nothing away. His most interesting idea was a plan to allow teachers to be compensated based on student achievement and classroom observation (with a higher ultimate salary ceiling) rather than years taught or graduate degrees. Teachers will get to choose whether they want to take this approach to compensation under his proposal. Interesting idea.
- The governor also announced he will propose a bill that will allow Georgians to purchase insurance plans from other states. More competition = good idea, especially if the feds are going to mandate coverage.
- All the speakers had harsh words for the federal health care bill as you would expect. I don't blame them. While Democratic commentators are going to say there will be no new costs to states, there always are with new government programs.
- The Governor did not mention his proposed "bed tax" for Georgia's hospitals, but that will come up too. I wish he had stood up and talked (like Gov. Huckabee did the night before) about a plan for how Georgians and their employers can work to improve personal health, rather than ignoring plans to take money from our health care institutions.
- As a side note, if improving Georgia's health is a top item on the agenda next year, perhaps we need to have a healthier breakfast menu at the event next year..... noticed that several legislators hardly touched their meals, including one who said that it would be easy to gain 40 lbs during the legislative session. That's not healthy.