Gold Dome churn could bode ill for reforms

 

state-capitol

Just last fall, statewide offices were filled for another four years. Yet 2015 hadn’t yet entered spring before folks under the Gold Dome started speculating about the next round of elections.

The most discouraging thing about this year’s legislative session may be how obvious it was that a number of lawmakers already had 2018 on their minds. It was apparent in the types of bills introduced, the amendments offered to those bills, the votes cast on them. The transportation-funding measure was a prime example, as legislators with higher ambitions maneuvered with them in mind.

You can expect a certain amount of this before a second-term governor leaves office. But four years ahead of time?

It doesn’t bode well for legislators’ ability to tackle big issues soon. They’ll all be up for re-election in 2016. The 2018 campaign for statewide offices will begin shortly thereafter. As hard as it is for legislators to focus on legislating in election years, when the urge to gavel out and begin raising money hits them as inexorably as the salmon’s instinct to head upstream, next year might be the best hope for such major legislation as Gov. Nathan Deal’s education reforms.

But wait, it gets worse. Consider the recent exodus of longtime, powerful lawmakers from the House.

Gone are Majority Leader Larry O’Neal, to serve as a state tax judge, and Transportation Chairman Jay Roberts, the state’s new transportation planning director. Leaving as well are Reps. Mark Hamilton, R-Cumming, a quietly effective lawmaker; Tyrone Brooks, D-Atlanta, who ended his 34-year career to plead guilty to tax fraud; Mike Jacobs, R-Brookhaven, a newly appointed state court judge; and Harry Geisinger, R-Roswell, who served in four of the past six decades before passing away in May.

In fact, amid the frequent lamentations about career politicians, you may be surprised to learn how much turnover there is in Georgia’s Legislature.

I came to the AJC in 2009. For every nine legislators in office then, only four remain. That’s 55 percent turnover in just six years.

The changes reach to the top. Of the 13 members of the House leadership back then, only four are still in office; just two remain in leadership. It’s a similar story in the Senate, where just five out of 12 members of the leadership circa 2009 remain senators, two of whom are still in leadership.

There’s been commensurate change in committee chairmanships, a valuable currency for legislative leaders. Only two of 27 Senate committees have the same chairs as in 2009. In the House, it’s 12 of 38.

What those statistics mean in human terms is a steady departure of institutional knowledge, personal relationships and working alliances.

As appealing as arguments for term limits may be, this extent of turnover doesn’t necessarily help when it comes to much-needed reforms. Yes, there are smart people who arrive with fresh ideas. But there are also fewer people who have been around long enough to know how agencies and programs and policies work, how they don’t, and what might work better. I suspect that’s one reason it has been hard to get anything done in recent years without effort on the governor’s part.

All the more reason for legislators to act with more urgency in 2016 than they might like to exert in an election year.

Reader Comments 0

30 comments
lvg
lvg

Georgia's gold dome and reforms. What a contradiction in term!. Isn't that they call an oxymoron?

MHSmith
MHSmith

Something that was brought up in the previous blog that remains pertinent to this one  is regulatory reform with a standing assertion that doing away with these agencies and or agency heads or by reducing the size and scope of bureaucratic powers would do more harm to people than good. 



I'd like to make a suggestions on that claim... Huffington Post  has about 5 pages of article that says the claim that "regulations" are there to protect people, as in We the People, just isn't true.



Revolving Door



A better than fair number of regulations only serve to protect corporate profits 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/revolving-door/



PS. Might be worth watching this group of folks leaving office to see what  they do  afterwards? 



Dusty2
Dusty2

Kyle,


Don't get discouraged.  Seems we are just searching for the smart ones or those with leadership ability in politics.  Maybe we need those who are not so familiar with "the way things work".  If only we could get our "leaders" to be the ones best suited and best qualified  no matter their political party.  Gov. Deal tries for that I think.  If not, we won't progress nor will Atlanta if leaders are not chosen who are best for the job. 


I know.  I'm dreaming! .   

straker
straker

Kyle - "folks on here ought to recognize what you're doing"


And, folks on here should see you don't seem to mind one bit that Perdue is not able to deliver on his Obamacare statements.


But, as long as he trashes Obama, that's enough.


Right?

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@straker If all he said was he would "fight," that was a pretty low bar to clear. If he promised more that'd be different, but so far you haven't been able to substantiate as much. It was run-of-the-mill campaign rhetoric. Or do you think Obama should be branded a liar because he said he'd "fight" inequality but inequality has in fact gotten worse?

Caius
Caius

Could we just take a one session vacation from culture war legislation?


SwamiDave
SwamiDave

Just as soon as we take a hiatus from culture war lawsuits @Caius.


-SD

straker
straker

Kyle


Perdue actually said he would "fight to get rid of this failed law"


So far, he's not much of a fighter, is he?

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator


@straker OK, you are finally getting closer to the truth. Funny how it took me 3-4 interactions with you to get there, isn't it?

If you want to troll Perdue, or anyone else, I guess that's your business. But folks on here ought to recognize what you're doing.

MHSmith
MHSmith

Tax reform Kyle, as not necessarily revenue reduction? 



Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@MHSmith Right. I would guess any plan will be scored as +/- 1% current revenues.

straker
straker

Kyle 


He said "if elected I will repeal Obamacare"

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@straker Politicians break lots of promises, and I'm all for pointing that out. But I'm genuinely curious to see if you're portraying this one accurately.

TicTacs
TicTacs

They should only meet every 5 years, at most every 2....for every new law, they should kill an old one off.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

I read this as "Gold Dome chum"  and thought, "How appropriate!"

straker
straker

I Whine - "do the things they promised to do"


Like Purdue promising to repeal Obamacare?


Hint - he hasn't yet.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@Wascatlady @straker Did Perdue ever say "I will repeal Obamacare"? Or "If elected, I will personally make sure Obamacare is repealed by (SPECIFIC DATE)"? Or did he just say things like, "We need to repeal Obamacare," which is rather different from the promise you say he's breaking?

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@Kyle_Wingfield @Wascatlady @straker My point is that too many politicians have to admit when they are faced with actually DOING what they promised, that they didn't know what they were talking about.  What they thought was so easy turned out not to be, or not to be such a good idea.

IReportYouWhine#1
IReportYouWhine#1

Better idea, make all the new ones swear to God on the Bible, in packed auditorium, that they will do the things that they promised to do, instead of kicking the can down the road every year. 

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

Please read my previous post on the necessity for innovative instructional reform within traditional public schools before reading this detailed, logistical one:


In order to work through a school's design for continuous progress all the teachers in the school must collaborate, coordinate, and cooperate with one another to set up, along with the Assistant Principals for Instruction and Counselors, an instructional design for the school which works for them and all of the students.  They have to put in extra hours during the summer break to ascertain, together, where all the students are functioning, disregarding grade level per se.  They have to form groups for all of the variations of instructional need with instructional precision, but would not cause any one teacher to have more than 3 groups, herself, alone.  Working smarter together is the answer here.  And, someone in leadership showing them the way, as I did as an ILT. 


If a school has 20 teachers and each teacher as 3 instructional groups for which she is responsible, then that gives 60 varied instructional groupings for the whole school on a continuum of low to high.  If the school holds 500 students, divided by 60 instructional groups, that means that each teacher would only have 25 students in her class. That, in turn, would mean that the teacher would only have 8 or 9 students within each of her 3 groups.  Easily manageable by good teachers who work together, with instructional insight.


They should continue to have instructional meetings throughout the year, together, in which they discuss each student's advancement rate or lack thereof.  This way no child is falling through the cracks and every child advances at his own rate through the curriculum at a pace in which he can achieve mastery throughout his tenure in school.  Few discipline problems and attendance problems, not by being punitive but by being smart and wise.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@MaryElizabethSings Education reform is just one kind of legislation that I was talking about in the post. This level of detail is probably better suited for the Get Schooled blog.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@Kyle_Wingfield


Yes, I have posted it there, but so many legislators, who are not educators, need to understand how traditional education can be modified, even with the collaboration with some charter schools, to affect instructional delivery throughout Georgia so that every student will learn, continuously, and no child will be left behind to fail. 


I hope you will post what I have written, Kyle.  Thanks for even considering posting my educational experiences.  We cannot throw the baby out with the bath water simply because we are ignorant, as a state, of instructional principles.  Where does one start except to try to educate our political representatives?

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

Kyle, when most people think of educational reform, they think of charter schools.  Please allow me, as an instructional leader in schools from 1st - 12th grades, to post the following to allow readers to understand another type of educational reform.


Some children will never "keep up" with the RATE of learning concepts as their peers, and some children will always grasp the same curriculum concepts as their peers at a more advanced RATE than their age peers.  One might as well retain a student who does not master all of the 3rd grade curriculum not only in a 3rd remedial grade, but also in a 4th remedial grade, in a 6th remedial grade, in a 7th remedial grade, etc. through 12 grades.  This kind of instructional perception is pure folly in instructional delivery. 


My innovative elementary/middle school practiced, very successfully, a continuous progress school model for a decade in which I was an ILT from the mid 1970s to the mid 1980s, without retaining students or holding advanced students back in a boring curriculum.  As many years as I have tried to point out continuous progress's advantages and wisdom instructionally on various blogs, some lay readers have never understood it. The Continuous Progress instructional design is an innovative, reform, instructional model which ensures the success of every student, continuously, until he/she earns his high school diploma, at grade 10, 11, 12, 13 or 14, depending on his RATE of mastery of curriculum concepts.  Moreover, when schools retain students (unlike continuous progress), they force children to go back over 60% or even 40% of the failed grade's curriculum, which they did master.  (My next post will deal with the logistics of launching this type of innovative approach to educational reform within traditional public schools.)

straker
straker

"legislators with higher ambitions"


Many of them are craving to move up to Washington, D.C., the center of intoxicating political power.