Category: The Forum

By Mike Klein Each year Georgia law enforcement seizes millions of dollars in personal property from people who were never charged with or convicted of a crime.  There was merely the suspicion that a crime had been committed, and that the property might somehow be connected to the crime that never happened. The story gets worse for property owners.  Georgia state law permits law enforcement agencies to sell the property and keep the proceeds.  The exact annual dollar value of these seizures and sales is unknown because law enforcement agencies have largely failed to file required reports. This is what the Institute for Justice  (IJ) said about Georgia civil asset forfeiture policies in a new report released Wednesday: “Georgia’s civil… View Article

Checking Up On Health: January 29, 2013

Health Policy Briefs Compiled by Benita M. Dodd Glossary for the health care law: The Associated Press has helpfully compiled a list of explanations of the terms you should know to help you understand the law that Congress passed (to paraphrase Speaker Nancy Pelosi) so that it could find out what was in the law. For example: “Essential health benefits – Basic health benefits that most health insurance plans will have to cover starting in 2014. They include office visits, emergency services, hospitalization, rehab care, mental health and substance abuse treatment, prescriptions, lab tests, prevention, maternal and newborn care, and pediatric care.” Find out about individual mandates, exchanges and more. Here’s what happens if you reject the mandate: “… View Article
Atlanta – Did you know that Georgia had the nation’s fourth-highest foreclosure rate in 2012? There were 105,610 foreclosure filings last year, or one for every 39 homes. Who’s to blame? Greedy bankers? Corrupt politicians? Ignorant homeowners? Find out from Randal O’Toole, author of, “American Nightmare: How Government Undermines the Dream of Homeownership,” at the Georgia Public Policy Foundation’s Leadership Breakfast at 8.a.m. on Tuesday, February 19 at Cobb County’s Georgian Club.   The event, titled “American Dream, American Nightmare” is a not-to-be-missed explanation of the forces at play in the housing market in Georgia and in the nation, and how to rebuild the American Dream of homeownership. This event will cost $25 to attend. Register online by Friday,… View Article

Beleaguered DOT’s To-Do List is Doable

(Guest column published January 29 by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution) By Benita Dodd Georgia’s Department of Transportation has been under fire in recent years, much of it deserved amid unwise policy decisions and lackadaisical financial management.  Under new management, with greater transparency and financial accountability, the agency is doing better.  But still more can be done for policy to progress in Georgia’s current economic climate. The department’s job is complicated by the lack of available funding.  Last year, voters in all but three of 12 regions rejected a proposed regional penny sales tax that would have funded projects in each region.  The shortfall is more serious when considering declining fuel tax revenues; congressional earmarks that divert federal funds from state priorities;… View Article

Government Transparency

What if … Every citizen could track every dollar of federal, state or local government spending, every contract, every real estate deal and every travel expense? What if … Citizens in every Georgia community could use their local knowledge to track and analyze local expenditures? What if … National experts could help citizens decipher government accounting and establish benchmarks for every government service? What if … We could honor every government in Georgia that offered quality services at the best value to taxpayers? What if … we could expose fraud, waste and abuse at every level of government? We believe transparency is the first step to accomplishing all of those goals. Georgia has become a leader in that area, but… View Article

Friday Facts: January 25, 2012

January 25, 2013  It’s Friday!  Upcoming: Did you know that Georgia had the nation’s fourth-highest foreclosure rate in 2012? Who’s to blame? Greedy bankers? Corrupt politicians? Ignorant homeowners? Find out at the Foundation’s Leadership Breakfast at Cobb County’s Georgian Club, 8 a.m. on Tuesday, February 19. The Cato Institute’s Randal O’Toole keynotes “American Dream, American Nightmare,” an explanation of the forces at play in the housing market in Georgia and in the nation, and how to rebuild the American Dream of homeownership. This event will cost $25 to attend. Register by Friday, February 15, at http://tinyurl.com/7ldaqnk.  Quotes of Note “Repeal that [welfare] law, and you will soon see a change in their manners. [I]ndustry will increase, and… View Article

Congress Works to Dismantle and Defund ObamaCare

By Grace-Marie Turner Facing a presidential veto pen blocking repeal of ObamaCare, the House is working to defund, dismantle, and delay implementation of the unpopular health overhaul law to avert at least some of its damage in the near term. The Fiscal Cliff deal chipped away at ObamaCare, eliminating one of its programs completely and cutting funding for another. Farewell, CLASS: The CLASS Act, a long-term-care insurance program that had been championed by late Sen. Edward Kennedy, was blessedly eliminated. The administration had said last year it couldn’t figure a way to assure the program would be financially solvent for 75 years before it was put into place – as the law requires. Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius wrote in a… View Article
By Mike Klein Discussion about mental health and other substance abuse treatment alternatives was front and center Wednesday when criminal justice system officials addressed House and Senate joint appropriations lawmakers at the State Capitol.  “Mental health is a huge issue in all the things we do,” Judge Robin W. Shearer said on behalf of the Council of Juvenile Court Judges. Georgia is in the early stages of significant adult and juvenile justice system reforms that focus on how to ensure incarceration for the most serious offenders, and how to provide community treatment options for offenders who do not benefit from or even require incarceration. Last year the General Assembly passed reforms to move the adult corrections system toward those goals.  … View Article
By Steve Metz Georgia’s Teachers Retirement System (TRS) represents a significant cost to taxpayers and an important part of teachers’ compensation and benefits package.  The current system is typical of government / teacher pension plans set up many years ago and it serves many teachers well (especially those who put in 30 or 40 years).  There are a lot of situations where it does not work well in today’s world however, and there are many reasons to believe it should be revised. From an employer’s perspective, a retirement plan should help with the Three R’s: Recruiting, Retaining and Rewarding employees.  In the rest of this discussion I will address how the TRS could be modified to better meet these objectives.… View Article
By Mike Klein Georgia’s ability to continue slow but steady economic growth might depend on factors beyond its control, including a “heroic assumption” that the federal government will somehow get its fiscal house in order.  “If we can just solve things in Washington I think we will be ready to go,” state fiscal economist Kenneth Heaghney said Tuesday morning at the State Capitol. Heaghney was largely upbeat and cautiously optimistic when he addressed House and Senate joint appropriations committee legislators.  Slow growth is possible through 2017.  Year-to-date year total tax revenue for six months ending in December was 4.9 percent, less than forecast.  “Our revenue stream tends to be very volatile,” Heaghney said. “Individual income tax is trending in the… View Article

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Dan Amos, CEO, AFLAC more quotes