Mike Klein Online

Nathan Deal’s Subtle Message May Have Been Most Important at Eggs

Mike Klein

Governor Nathan Deal seemed to be saying something unusual Tuesday: “I want to listen.”

The new Governor used the Georgia Chamber of Commerce Eggs and Issues scramble to announce initiatives that will define how his administration thinks about business opportunities, education and water resources.  But the unspoken subtle message may have been Nathan Deal knows he doesn’t have all the answers by himself and successful governance works best as a team sport.

Time after time, Deal returned to the listen theme and toward the end he said, “I look forward to working with you.  I will have an open door. I will listen to your concerns. I will consider your recommendations and, hopefully together, we can move the great state of Georgia forward.”

The Governor asked for business community help to identify and create job opportunities. He asked teachers, parents, school superintendents and local board members for help with public education. He asked for public-private partnership help to expand the state’s water resources.

Governor Nathan Deal

One thing we have learned is Nathan Deal prefers short speeches. This was his first address as Governor to the state Chamber. He spoke for 11 minutes; 2,000 listened and applauded.

Eight years ago Governor Sonny Perdue received widespread acclaim for his Commission for a New Georgia that would examine government inside and out, leave no stone unturned to ferret out waste and create new best practices.  It was a successful and long overdue model.

Deal’s model is narrower and more targeted: “It doesn’t really serve us in the overall scheme of things to spend our money educating our children K through 12, in college and higher education, and not be able to provide them with jobs that keep them in the state.  So, jobs and education, the two important ingredients for the future of our state, are inextricably linked together.”

Deal said the Georgia Chamber “is going to be a very vital partner working with us” on a new Georgia Competitiveness Initiative that will also bring together two state agencies – Economic Development and Transportation – whose work is critical to Georgia’s recovery now and future growth.

On education, the Governor made it clear he will listen to the downtown professionals, but he also announced creation of new statewide advisory groups that will have membership from all 13 current congressional districts (soon to be 14 after census redistricting later this year).

“I want to meet quarterly with teachers, local superintendents and school board members and parents,” Deal said. “If we are to make good policy it is imperative that we tap into the information and the opinions and the points of view of those who are involved in the process.”

Finally, the governor suggested public – private partnerships are essential to solving the water war with Alabama and Florida that looms overhead like a black storm cloud. “We believe it is important for the state of Georgia to show good faith,” said Deal. “We can’t sit back and wait on Washington to solve the problem for us, nor can we simply expect the courts to do that.”

Deal said the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority will coordinate a new multiple state agencies approach to expand existing water resources and plan new reservoirs.  Deal said the state will invest $300 million over four years to assist local communities with their water resources planning.

The Governor was speaking about the new competitiveness initiative when he said, “If we are going to achieve success, we must know how we are going about it and do it in the most appropriate fashion.”

Apparently, he means to listen.  At least that was the message Tuesday.

Mike Klein is Editor at the Georgia Public Policy Foundation.

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January 26, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , ,

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