Speaker Ralston on the upcoming Session

Dennis O’Hayer has part two of his interview with the Speaker posted.

In the Gainesville Times, Ralston said he’s still committed to looking at the State House districts in Hall County, but that lawmakers eying the map should “be very careful.”

“We had proposals out there, and those proposals kind of got down the road before we realized the extent of the objections,” said Ralston.

When the maps passed, there were commitments from Ralston, the local delegation and Deal to revisit them this year.

With the new session only days away, Ralston said he is still willing to “try.”

“We did have discussions, and we’re going to go back and try to extend those discussions this session,” he said.

Ralston told the Gainesville Times that he favors broad-based tax reform.

The speaker said he favors moving away from a state income tax toward a consumption tax.

“I think it’s the most fair tax that we can have, rather than taxing people on their income,” Ralston said. “It’s tax at the point of consumption. If you choose to make a purchase, you pay a tax. If you don’t choose to make that purchase, then you don’t. Other states around us don’t have an income tax; I hope we get to some day here in Georgia where we can abolish the income tax.”

And while Ralston said he is not necessarily advocating the reinstatement of a sales tax on groceries, he said he thinks lawmakers “have to put all of these things on the table and have a good discussion about them and decide where you want to end up.”

Signs of economic improvement mean that the budget is likely to be reduced less than in recent years.

In December, Ralston’s statement on proposals to eliminate lobbyist gifts to legislators suggest his view remains that disclosure is the best disinfectant.

“Does it make sense to say you’re serious about ethical government while still accepting large gifts from lobbyists?” 11Alive asked Ralston.

“Again, I think as long as that information is made available to the people — as we make it now, it’s a mouse click away — let the people be the judge about what’s acceptable and what’s not acceptable,” Ralston answered. “I trust their judgment.”

Finally, Ralston has predicted that the odds are low for passage of a state constitutional amendment on charter schools.


  1. Dave Bearse says:

    Information is only a few mouse clicks away so long as information is actually reported, and the lights are on at the Transparency Commission to make it public.

    Ralston’s $18,000 junket to Europe, and Cagle’s $5,000 golf outing, became known because reports were later amended. I figure someone with inside information advised lobbyists that the expenditures were required to be reported. I trust Ralston’s integrity, so I would not at all be surprised to learn that Ralston (or his staff) informed his benefactors that reporting was required. Lobbyists, I don’t trust so much.

    An $18,000 expense not being reported in a timely manner, and Ralston not issuing a press release concerning the trip and what he learned, gives the appearance it was a paid vacation (which it was for family and family of staff). These episodes point out that the system need only transparent to the extent that pols and other insiders prompt reporting. I don’t trust transparency that relies on the integrity of pols and insiders when gifts aren’t subject to restriction, or pols and insiders aren’t subject to any penalty at law concerning reporting of lobbyist gift-giving.

    • saltycracker says:

      Is the volume problem local (mine) or in the video ? Really tried hard to take in what seemed like a good interview with Isakson but could only hear the ad clearly…..

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