Ron Ramsey, speaker of the Tennessee senate and lieutenant governor of Tennessee, spoke to political science students at UT Tuesday.
Ramsey, one of the candidates running in the gubernatorial race this November, spoke to students about education and politics.
Ramsey, who studied building and construction technology at East Tennessee State University, discussed the importance of politics and how he began his career. He said he has never taken a political science class.
Ramsey said he went to Nashville in 1992 to attend the Realtors Day on the Hill and was able to meet a few state representatives and senators. He told the representative from his district that when his job was over, he would not mind running for his position in Bristol.
“Two months later, I received a phone call saying that the seat was open,” Ramsey said.
He said the representative had already submitted his name to the local newspaper as a candidate for the seat. When a reporter called from the newspaper and asked him if he was running in the race, he answered yes.
“That\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'s how my political career began right there,” he said.
Eighteen years later, Ramsey is one of the candidates running for governor in the upcoming election and the first republican lieutenant governor in Tennessee in 140 years.
“I\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'d like to think that I am the most qualified for this job (as governor),” he said.
His job now is to make sure the budget gets balanced by the end of each session, assign bills and appoint committees, among other things.
Ramsey said if he was elected governor, he would keep education, health care and the state\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'s budget as his top priorities just as current Gov. Phil Bredesen has done.
“The most important thing is to balance the budget,” he said.
In terms of education, Ramsey said the bill passed in the last special session, the Complete College Act of 2010, will help universities and students across the state.
The new transfer policy will change and come into effect next year. Ramsey said that, for students wanting to transfer schools, they will know exactly which credits will count before they enter the school. The transfer process should be smoother for students, he said.
For grades K-12, the Better Education Program will use the data taken from the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program to evaluate teachers and their success in classrooms.
“This is the next step in the right direction,” he said.
In terms of health care, Ramsey said that Bredesen did a good job in trying to keep the funding under 30 percent of the budget. He said that this allows more funding in areas of education.
“If I am elected governor, I will try and keep health care (costs) at about 26 percent,” he said.
Students asked Ramsey about the voucher programs that would allow parents to enroll their students in better schools if their child is enrolled in a failing school. Ramsey said he was in favor of this system if the vouchers were made available to schools that are on the state\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'s failing list.
Jennifer Sprouse, junior in journalism and electronic media, said she learned something new in Ramsey\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'s speech.
“I learned that Tennessee has a very different way of handling business and day-to-day tasks than other states,” she said. “The governor especially has more responsibility and plays more of a role in our state government.”
Sprouse said Ramsey has a lot of experience and has a good idea of what a Tennessee governor should be.
“I think that he will be relatable to many East Tennessee people and will reassure them that they have a voice in our state politics,” she said.
Ramsey encouraged students to be active in government and school.
“Stay involved,” he said.