– “You could take a poll and see what the public says it wants, but what the public says it wants at any particular moment is not identical with the public interest. The public is made up of individuals, most of whom have no better idea what is in the best interest of people they have never met and know nothing about than you do – and practicallyall of whom will lie when asked what it is they really want: They’ll say they want opera broadcasts and educational programming and organic chard and more foreign news in the newspaper, but in real life their revealed preferences are pretty much classic rock, fantasy-football stats, and those heinous seven-layer burritos from Taco Bell.” – Kevin D. Williamson, National Review
Tax and budget
– “Budget earmarks are a good place to start on the road to greater accountability and transparency in government. Fiscal conservatives hate them, and they have proven bad for Georgia. In a time of lean revenue, we cannot sacrifice our children’s education to build fish and horse farms or give pet projects a boost at the expense of public safety. The Governor and the leaders in both chambers should be advocates of a no-earmarks policy, and we stand ready to support that policy.” – Georgia House Democratic Caucus Leader Stacey Abrams
– The Foundation’s first reaction to the Tax Reform Council’s recommendations was positive, although there was a concern about tax increases. That has been allayed: Governor Deal’s budget contains no tax increases. This means that income tax rates should be lowered immediately rather than phased in. And Georgia should immediately send economic development officials to Chicago. …
What’s happening at the Foundation
– Join U.S. Rep. Tom Price of Georgia and Grace-Marie Turner of the Galen Institute at a Foundation Policy Briefing Luncheon on Friday, February. 4, at the Georgian Club. The topic is, “Health Care Prognosis and Prognostications.” The cost to attend this luncheon is $35. Register by Feb. 2 at this link: http://tinyurl.com/3x6jz4d.
– Georgia ranked 13th highest in the nation in Quality Counts 2010, the 14th edition of Education Week’s annual report card on American public education. States were graded on the teaching profession; standards, assessments and accountability; school finance; and the Chance-for-Success Index, which assesses the role of education at key stages of a person’s life, from early childhood to adulthood. Source: Education Week
– Extolling the virtues of tolling, Andrew Coyne of the Canadian weekly magazine Maclean’s comments on one of the critics’ arguments: “But wait a minute, you say: I paid for those roads already, via the gas tax. Isn’t that a kind of user fee? Not so fast. You may have paid for the roads. What you haven’t paid for is you. Every time you use the road, you take up space that might be occupied by another car. And so far as you do, you impede the driver of that car from getting where he wants to go, and doing what he would rather be doing there. Since time is money, you impose a cost on him – as does he on you.” Read more in The Forum at http://tinyurl.com/4ny3tnd.
– Healthy dose of savings: The evidence is piling up on how Health Savings Accounts and consumer-driven health programs can help public employers balance their books, even while improving the benefits to public employees, says health care analyst Greg Scandlen. With the right leadership, Georgia could be be a national model in this area. Savings for the Georgia State Health Benefit Plan, one of the largest in the nation, exceed $1 billion over the next four years.
– The Foundation commentary last week, “Eight Affordable Ideas for Georgia,” discussed the potential for state savings in criminal justice reform. This week, a policy brief by the Reason Foundation and Florida TaxWatch reported that expanding the use of public-private partnerships to create a continuum of care in corrections – one that follows offenders from intake, through prisons and into post-release services – would create a more integrated and coordinated system of programming and management and optimize outcomes while lowering costs. It calculated that “shifting to a continuum of care PPP model in two regions of Florida could reduce the annual costs of correctional facility operation and community corrections by $71 million to $102 million per year. Over a 10-year time frame, this could add up to approximately $1 billion in potential savings.” Source: Reason Foundation
Visit www.georgiapolicy.org to read the Foundation’s latest commentary, “Tax Reform Council Delivers a Promising Package,” by E. Frank Stephenson.
Have a great weekend.
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The Foundation’s Criminal Justice Initiative pushed the problems to the forefront, proposed practical solutions, brought in leaders from other states to share examples, and created this nonpartisan opportunity. (At the signing of the 2012 Criminal Justice Reform bill.)