Category: The Forum

Friday Facts: January 31, 2014

It’s Friday! Timing is everything: Jan. 26-Feb.1 is National School Choice Week. The Foundation hosted an informative panel discussion, “School Choice and Georgia: An Update,” Tuesday morning. Unfortunately, snow and related bad weather led to many Georgia events being canceled, including the National School Choice Rally on the steps of the Georgia State Capitol Tuesday afternoon and the America’s Future Foundation event Tuesday evening. (Like thousands of Georgians, the Foundation’s Benita Dodd and Mike Klein were stuck in the icy traffic jam. Mike spent the night in the aisle at the Publix on East Paces Ferry Road; Benita reached home at 1 a.m., 12 hours after leaving the Capitol.) We hope and yours were safe. View… View Article

Atlanta’s Icy Logjam a Beacon of Hope for The Future

By Benita M. Dodd BENITA DODD The metro Atlanta region came to a standstill this week, its interstates, highways and side streets glazed over with ice after a sudden snowfall, and thousands of commuters left stranded. Children spent the night at school, people bedded down in churches, restaurants, hotel lobbies and grocery stores. The rest of America chuckled good-humoredly at those silly Atlantans who can’t even drive in a dusting of snow. The fingerpointing and soul-searching began early. Whose fault? Why didn’t government learn from the last ice storm? What can policy-makers do better next time? What is wrong with motor-centric Atlanta that it won’t embrace mass transit? Why isn’t Georgia spending more on (fill in the blank)? None of… View Article

Replacing the Gas Tax: Lessons Learned from Oregon

Leonard Gilroy reports that, “Like in most states, Oregon transportation officials are grappling with a long-term decline in the purchasing power of the gas tax and the erosion of its utility as a mechanism to generate highway funding, given the rise in more fuel-efficient vehicles, as well as electric and other vehicles that minimize or eliminate gasoline use altogether. Having been the first state to adopt a gas tax to fund transportation infrastructure nearly a century ago, Oregon has in recent years taken the lead among states with regard to advancing the concept that may ultimately replace the beleaguered gas tax—mileage-based road user charges.” In “Pioneering Road User Charges in Oregon,” Gilroy, Director of Government Reform at the … View Article

Outsourcing of School Support Services

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s Michigan School Privatization Survey 2013 , released last week, finds that 357 of Michigan’s 545 local school districts (65.5%) contracted out for at least one of the three main non-instructional services — custodial, food, and transportation — in 2013, a figure that has more than doubled since the Center began publishing its annual study in 2001. The survey found that 45.5% of districts contracted with private companies for facilities maintenance and other custodial work, followed by food services at 36.5% and transportation at 21%. “Every dollar saved through privatization is a dollar that can be redirected toward the classroom where it belongs,” according to the Mackinac Center’s James Hohman. The full report is available View Article
The Reason Foundation’s Leonard Gilroy has an interesting report on the growing interest in social impact bonds. Georgia’s existing criminal justice reforms have created a need to fund community-based services, which could be leveraged by social impact bonds. Gilroy writes: “An article in the first edition of this newsletter back in October noted the growing interest among states in the emerging tool of social impact bonds (SIBs), which are public-private partnerships in which private philanthropic organizations, financiers, nonprofits or other nongovernmental organizations finance and implement new social service delivery models on behalf of governments under a pay-for-success contract model. Since then, there have been some noteworthy developments in three states—New York State, New Jersey, and Washington State—that demonstrate that the… View Article

New Funding Model Improves Student Achievement

“One of our very promising findings suggests that the larger the share of a district’s budget that goes directly to the schools on a per-student basis, the better the performance,” says Katie Furtick, co-author the Reason Foundation’s Weighted Student Formula Yearbook. According to the report, Weighted Student Funding (WSF) “is a student-driven rather than program-driven budgeting process. It goes by several names including results-based budgeting, student-based budgeting, “backpacking” or fair-student funding. In every case the meaning is the same: dollars rather than staffing positions follow students into schools. In many cases, these resources are weighted based on the individual needs of the student.” It is likely that the Weighted Student Funding model will be examined closely by Georgia next… View Article

Transit relic won’t help transportation

This op-ed appeared in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on January 28, 2014. By Benita Dodd Watching the evolving justification for the Atlanta Streetcar project’s benefits is like watching a shell game. It’s anybody’s guess what reason will turn up next: mobility, congestion relief, economic development, environmental benefits or tourism. Only the naïve would place a bet. Back when it applied for a $47 million federal grant for the streetcar, the city predicted that “automobile trips will be diverted to the safer streetcar mode, which will thereby reduce accidents and increase pedestrian safety because more travelers will be using the streetcar instead of traveling by automobile.” (The application also admitted that more than 57 percent of the people within a quarter-mile of… View Article

Upward Mobility Has Not Declined

A new study finds that the odds of moving up the income ladder are the same today as they were 20 years ago, says the New York Times. The findings contradict widespread claims that a person’s chance for upward mobility is lower today than in the past. The study also examined another report by researchers who had observed children born between 1952 and 1975. Combining those results indicates that intergenerational mobility rates have been steady for the last 50 years. Absolute mobility — the measure of a person’s income compared to his parents’ — has also improved in recent years. Median family income is close to 12 percent higher today than it was in 1980, meaning that most adults… View Article
(Watch YouTube links to view civil forfeiture reform hearing testimony.) By Mike Klein Mike KleinEditor, Georgia Public Policy Foundation Given a chance to influence the civil forfeiture reform debate, the Georgia Sheriffs’ Association declined to appear at a House hearing, preferring to send a letter stating opposition to changes the Association said “will not serve to protect or benefit the citizens of our State.”  The vice chairman of the committee that held the hearing referred to the letter as “playing games.” Friday afternoon discussions that packed a State Capitol hearing room were noteworthy because HB 1 had support from every organization that testified including prosecuting and defense attorneys, the Institute for Justice, ACLU of Georgia, Americans for Prosperity Georgia and… View Article

Analyzing Education Spending

Education funding has taken center stage in Georgia political discussions. What do the numbers show? It is clear there are many Georgia school systems in difficult financial shape due to a combination of state spending reductions, declining property tax values and inadequacy of the state’s education funding formula, which was created in 1985 and may be replaced next year. Critics note the billions of dollars of state “austerity cuts” that have occured since 2003. This is the difference between the funding level determined by the state’s funding formula and the amount actually funded. In order to put this in context it is important to look at the actual numbers over time and to compare Georgia’s education funding to other states.… View Article

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U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson more quotes