Rural council promises results, asks for patience


House Speaker David Ralston on Monday said rural Georgia can’t afford to wait for the next election to find progress and solutions.

“Rural Georgia cannot wait on political seasons to come and go because they will always come and go,” the Blue Ridge Republican told the first meeting of the House Rural Development Council. “I refuse to allow any personal ambitions to get in the way of what we are doing.”

The House created the council this past legislative session to identify problems facing rural areas and develop solutions. In the years since the end of the Great Recession, rural areas have struggled.

Rural counties had just 22 percent of the state’s jobs in 2014, according to a 2016 Georgia State University study called “Jobs in Georgia’s Urban and Rural Regions and Counties: Changes in Distribution, Type, and Quality from 2007 to 2014.”

Authors Peter Bluestone and Mels de Zeeuw found that the Atlanta region and the state’s 13 “hub cities” saw 90 percent of all job growth from 2007 to 2014.

At its first meeting here, council members heard from leaders of small rural towns and counties who acknowledged similar challenges: under-performing schools, lack of infrastructure, threatened or non-existent health care facilities, and lack of opportunity.

But, those local officials were warned, despite Ralston’s promise, that solutions won’t come quickly.

“We are going to make a very concerted effort to deal with a lot of issues,” House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jay Powell, R-Camilla, the council’s co-chairman, said. “This is a two-year task.”

Still, Ralston said, the council’s work, and the plans it develops, are crucial.

“Your zip code or your county of residence should not dictate your lot in life,” he said. “Moving to the big city should not, cannot be the only way to get ahead.”


Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Georgia Politics

Paper ballots pass Election Day test in Georgia
Paper ballots pass Election Day test in Georgia

The results are in from this month’s test run of a voting system that could bring paper ballots back to Georgia: It was easy to use and fast, but it would come with a high cost to taxpayers. The trial of the touch screen-plus-paper ballot voting system “came off without a hitch” when it was tried during the Nov. 7 election...
Oxendine suit claims ethics charges are rooted in unconstitutional law
Oxendine suit claims ethics charges are rooted in unconstitutional law

Former Georgia Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine has filed a federal lawsuit against the state ethics commission saying its newest charges against him — that he illegally benefited personally from campaign funds raised for his unsuccessful 2010 gubernatorial run — stem from an unconstitutionally vague state law. Oxendine has been battling...
The Left is condemning the culture of harassment; calls for Conyers to go
The Left is condemning the culture of harassment; calls for Conyers to go

More people are calling for U.S. Rep. John Conyers to resign in the wake of the news of secret payments for congressional sexual harassment claims. A roundup of editorials Wednesday takes a look at the issue. From The Detroit Free Press: Voters in Michigan should have been told of the payoffs to women who claimed Conyers sexually harassed. From The...
The Right is calling for Congress to end secret payments for bad behavior
The Right is calling for Congress to end secret payments for bad behavior

It’s morals run amok in some corners of Congress. And, guess what? Taxpayers get to foot the bill to hush it up. A roundup of editorials Wednesday takes a look at the secret settlement fund. Opinions from the Right: From The Detroit News: Voters were cheated when they were kept in the dark about payments to silence women who accused Conyers of...
Trump promises Americans ‘huge tax cut’ for Christmas
Trump promises Americans ‘huge tax cut’ for Christmas

President Donald Trump on Monday promised a tax overhaul by Christmas, a day after the White House signaled its willingness to strike a health care provision from Senate tax legislation if it’s an impediment to passing the tax bill. Speaking before a Cabinet meeting, Trump said: “We’re going to give the American people a huge tax...
More Stories