October 15: Health Care! Education! Work! In less than two weeks, the Sixth Annual Georgia Legislative Policy Forum takes place at the Renaissance Atlanta Waverly. Join us Thursday, October 15 as legislators and other thought leaders from across Georgia learn from national experts how “Opportunity” knocks in Georgia. This daylong event’s theme is “Wisdom, Justice and Opportunity,” Details here. Registration is $125 per person and includes breakfast and lunch. Register here before the October 9th deadline. Sponsorships are available; contact Benita Dodd.
December 8: Mark your calendar! The Foundation hosts, “The Case for K-12 Student-Based Budgeting in Georgia,” a panel discussion at The Cobb Galleria. Details to follow.
Quotes of Note
“Creativity when it comes to your tackling problems. Their openness – openness and open-mindedness – because it allows them to unleash the inner potential of their people. And thanks to that, America has attained such amazing results in developing their country.” – Vladimir Putin, when asked what the Russian president admires most about America
“The cause of global warming, according to [Pope] Francis, is quite clear: Capitalism. ‘Once capital becomes an idol and guides people’s decisions’ he said in Bolivia last July, ‘it even puts at risk our common home.’ Nothing could be further from the truth. The correlation between wealth and environmental quality is overwhelming and undisputed. Simply put, the more affluent a society is, the cleaner it is.” – Patrick J. Michaels
$813 pencil holders: The federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) earned The Washington Times’ Golden Hammer award for the most egregious waste of taxpayer money: $92 million on high-end office furniture. Among the purchases were an $813 pencil drawer and $4,047 office chair.
Unholy mess: The city of Temple, Ga. (pop. 4,300), wasted more than a million dollars of its budget, according to a forensic audit. Fox News Atlanta reported some of the findings: seized drug money spent on supplies then sold off, buildings bought and renovated then torn down, and supplies and services delivered to nonexistent addresses. The city is a poster child for the need for government transparency!
Challenges counting: The Office of Personnel Management now admits that more than 5 million fingerprints were stolen by a Chinese hacker last year, significantly more than the 1.1 million fingerprints it originally acknowledged. Unlike passwords and Social Security numbers, victims can’t change their fingerprints. Source: National Journal
More woes: In the same week, three cars used by the Atlanta Streetcar system were vandalized by a graffiti artist and it was revealed that a July internal audit excoriated the system for multiple deficiencies in management and safety operations. Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Rail survey: In shades of The Onion’s 2000 survey, a 2015 survey released by the American Public Transportation Association finds that 63 percent of Americans say they are likely to use high-speed rail if it were available today. That jumped to 67 percent when they were told “it will be less expensive than flying and that it will take less time than driving to their destination.”
Energy and environment
Polluter payola: India and 12 other developing countries say they will resist any “obligatory review mechanism” intended to increase their individual efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions. They also say their signing of any climate agreement in Paris is dependent on developed countries financing, as promised, a clean development/climate fund. Source: Heartland Institute
Backpack funding: For everything you ever wanted to know about student-based funding, read the Reason Foundation’s latest Student-Based Budgeting Newsletter.
This month in the archives: In October 1995, the Foundation published, “Privatization: Dispelling the Myths.” It noted: “Moving government services into a competitive environment will give Georgia citizens the highest quality services at the lowest possible cost.”
Visit www.georgiapolicy.org to read our latest commentary, “Web-based Tool Helps Educate Parents on Great Schools,” by Benita M. Dodd.
Have a great weekend!
Kelly McCutchen and Benita Dodd
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The Georgia Public Policy Foundation is our state’s leading organization promoting government transparency. The Secretary of State’s office shares the Foundation’s commitment to transparency and responsible stewardship of taxpayer dollars, which is why our agency was the first in Georgia to publish its budget and spending data on a public transparency website.