Quotes of Note
“If laws acting upon private interests can not always be avoided, they should be confined within the narrowest limits, and left wherever possible to the legislatures of the States.” – Martin Van Buren
“Life has many good things. The problem is that most of these good things can be gotten only by sacrificing other good things. We all recognize this in our daily lives. It is only in politics that this simple, common sense fact is routinely ignored.” – Thomas Sowell
“The current tort system does not promote open communication to improve patient safety. On the contrary, it jeopardizes patient safety by creating an intimidating liability environment.” – Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama (“Making Patient Safety the Centerpiece of Medical Liability Reform”)
January 24, 2013: Just one week after attending the national Transportation Research Board’s annual meeting, Robert W. Poole will keynote, “Moving Georgia Ahead: What’s Coming Down the Pike,” an 8 a.m. Leadership Breakfast at Cobb County’s Georgian Club. Poole, a Senior Fellow at the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, is a co-founder of the Reason Foundation and its director of transportation policy. He will provide an update on the outlook for transportation policy, funding and innovation amid fiscal constraints and partisan politics, and outline Georgia’s options for mobility and congestion relief. Registration is $25; register here: http://tinyurl.com/y27h3dk.
Mark your calendar: Upcoming speakers at Foundation Leadership Breakfasts include Randal O’Toole of the Cato Institute on February 19, 2013, and Yaron Brooks of the Ayn Rand Institute on March 19, 2013.
Countdown to the Legislative Session
It’s that time again – the Georgia General Assembly begins its 2013 session on Monday, January 14. Here’s our wish list:
– Build on the major, bipartisan criminal justice reforms enacted in 2012 by reforming the juvenile justice system.
– Reform Georgia’s civil asset forfeiture law to protect innocent owners and their property rights.
– Avoid renewing the bed tax unless paired with cost-saving reforms. The $250 million hospital bed tax, which the Wall Street Journal cites as an example of federal “waste, fraud and abuse,” was enacted three years ago to draw down extra federal funding and sold as a temporary solution. With Georgia’s Medicaid program nearly $700 million in the red without this tax, legislators should at the very least enact cost-saving measures like those below to ensure they can call this a temporary tax with a straight face.
– Reform the medical malpractice system, which works well for trial lawyers and insurance companies, but not for Georgians actually injured by malpractice. A patient-centered approach would reduce the large number of injured patients who receive zero compensation and get them help more quickly and at less personal expense. It would also reduce the number of patients injured, making everyone safer, which the current system has failed to do. This bipartisan idea could also save Georgia taxpayers over $1 billion a year by reducing defensive medicine.
– Create patient-centered health care options for disabled Medicaid recipients. During its five years of operations, Florida’s patient-centered Medicaid Reform Pilot has improved the health of enrolled patients, achieved high patient satisfaction and kept cost increases below average. A new study finds that if this experience were replicated in Georgia, patient satisfaction would soar, health outcomes would improve and taxpayers could save up to $1.4 billion.
– Give teachers the opportunity to chose a hybrid pension plan. In a recent survey in Washington State, not only did a majority of teachers chose a hybrid pension plan over the traditional defined benefit plan, but the teachers that chose the hybrid plan proved to be the most effective teachers. In 2008, Georgia created a hybrid plan for new state employee hires, with existing employees allowed to opt in. Giving Georgia teachers this option could help attract and retain high quality teachers, save the state money and still provide a secure, financially sound retirement for teachers.
– Free up existing funding to cover priority needs.
Georgia spends more money per student on education-related capital projects than all but nine other states. The movement in education toward digital learning places less emphasis on buildings and more emphasis on high quality Internet connections. Georgia should shift a small portion of bond funding from school construction to fund fiber optic connections to school buildings to provide broadband Internet access to every student in the state.
Allow local governments to substitute a new, flexible local sales tax for the ESPLOST to be used for any combination of 1) education capital projects, 2) transportation capital projects or 3) temporary shoring up of operating budgets for schools in dire fiscal situations. The flexibility of a fractional local sales tax would allow taxes that are now being collected to be used more effectively and where they are most needed.
Have a great weekend.
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The Georgia Public Policy Foundation has hit another homerun with its Guide to the Issues. This is must reading for anyone interested in public policy in Georgia, and it is an outstanding road map for conservative, common sense solutions to our challengers of today and tomorrow.