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Closing the Gap

Like the rest of the nation, Georgia is facing some serious financial challenges – a shrinking tax base, skyrocketing health care costs and a slowing economy. Appropriately and understandably, the governor and the legislature are taking a long, hard look at the numbers and have asked everyone in state government to identify ways to cut costs and trim the budget. This exercise is certainly going to force some tough decisions, and we hope that our leaders will choose the right ones. We have already seen some of the typical reactions to budget crises – eliminating salary increases, slashing slush funds and raising taxes – but rather than striking at the obvious, our leaders should seize this opportunity to dig deeply… View Article

Tax Amnesty: Hidden Costs Outweigh Benefits

By Morgan Smith During the next few weeks, Georgia’s legislators will be looking for creative solutions to the state’s budget crisis. One possibility being considered is a tax amnesty, which is a tool many states have turned to in recent years. While the prospect of easy money can sound attractive, a closer look suggests that tax amnesties are not usually the right answer and should not be an option for Georgia. The first problem is that tax amnesties typically bring in much less incremental revenue than is reported. States like to announce how much revenue comes in the door during the amnesty period, but usually fail to account for the fact that most of these taxes would have been collected… View Article
By Ronald G. Cummings Over the last year or so there has been considerable controversy in Georgia concerning policies related to the planning and management of Georgia’s water resources. Two key issues in this controversy relate to protecting public interests in water, and reliance on markets as a means for resolving critical problems in reallocating water over time. These two issues are often combined within the context of the question: “Are Georgia’s waters a public resource or a commodity to be bought and sold?” This question is at best confusing and at worst misleading. The issue of whether or not Georgia’s water resources are a “public resource” is one that is independent of – not related to – the issue… View Article

Many Questions Remain for Atlanta After United Water

By Geoffrey F. Segal On Friday, January 24, the city of Atlanta terminated its rocky relationship with United Water, ending the venture into private water operation. Over the past several months the mayor and her staff have let it be known that they were unhappy with United’s performance operating the city’s waterworks—resulting in a three-month cure period that abruptly ended Friday afternoon. During this period, both sides painted themselves into a corner, leaving little or no room to maneuver. Perhaps the termination was nothing more than the culmination of months of political pressure and stances from which the city could not back away. Unfortunately, the people of Atlanta will still be paying for this costly decision for years to come.… View Article

The Atlanta Water Privatization: What Can We Learn?

By Geoffrey F. Segal I. Context In 1997, the City of Atlanta privatized their waterworks system, entering into a 20-year contract with United Water. At the time, it was the largest and longest privatization of infrastructure in U.S. history. The deal garnered many awards including one from the National Council on Public-Private Partnerships and the U.S. Conference of Mayors. However, in the past few months several issues have arisen in Atlanta regarding the performance of the water system, contractor payments or change orders, and the status of the system before the contract was entered into. Ultimately, while not perfect, the Atlanta water privatization presents a valuable opportunity from which to learn—if nothing else, it teaches us what not to do.… View Article

We Need Axes, Not Taxes

By Kelly McCutchen Governor Sonny Perdue gave his first Budget Address this week. It is a speech that no governor likes to give, and one he certainly hopes not to give again. The new administration barely had time to clean up the confetti after its historic victory party in November before finding themselves in the middle of an historic budget crisis. The news was bad. For the first time in 50 years, state revenue collections were less than the previous year – easily the worst budget crisis in the modern era. In his budget address, the governor outlined a plan of budget cuts in some areas, tapping a portion of the state’s “rainy day fund” and a package of fee… View Article
By Chris Carr Right or wrong, needed or unneeded, government regulates commerce all of the time. Government will mandate, for instance, how much pollution may be released into the air, how many handicapped spaces must be included in a parking lot at a shopping center and whether warning labels must be used on particular products. Usually, these regulations do not cross the line into micromanaging private industry. Typically, politicians have not dared to tread into the realm of telling a business how it should operate and what it will or won’t sell. Apparently, the DeKalb County Commission doesn’t play by these time-honored rules. They recently stepped over the line by banning smoking in the private sector and began a new… View Article
By Kelly McCutchen People love trivia, so here’s a test: Describe the boundaries of your U.S. congressional district, as well as your Georgia House and Senate district. No clue? Don’t feel bad; outside of political operatives that keep district maps on their Palm Pilot, few people can pass the test. That’s why the biggest surprise for many voters on Election Day was not finding out the results of the election after they voted, but discovering what district they were in when they entered the voting booth. It’s bad enough that most voters can’t identify their elected officials, as Jay Leno so often points out with his “man on the street” interviews. But by creating these irregular shapes that we call… View Article
By Morgan Smith I. Summary In 2001, the Georgia Legislature convened a Study Committee in the House of Representatives to examine complaints raised by the state’s alcohol retailers about some businesses practices on the part of alcohol wholesalers. The subsequent examination of the state’s regulation of the alcohol distribution industry brought to light serious questions about the structure and value of economic protections provided to the wholesalers. It is widely accepted that state regulation of alcohol distribution is an important and necessary undertaking. But it is also clear that some elements of Georgia’s regulatory policy haven’t kept pace with changes in both the industry’s participants and the shape of the marketplace. As with all instances of state intervention in “special”… View Article

Central Education Center: A Model for the Future

By Dr. Holly A. Robinson Imagine a high school where students learn real-world work skills – and are prepared for real jobs in real, local businesses. Imagine a school where bank presidents and corporate board members come to speak to students. Where youngsters get lessons tailored to fit the needs of local industry. Where businesses team up with educators. Where students full of enthusiasm and hope triumphantly receive the first A’s they’ve ever gotten in their lives. Where civic leaders, business execs, school officials – even the local technical college, band together to ensure that a school – a charter school – helps to meet the needs of local businesses and local young people seeking jobs and careers. Impossible? Pie-in-the-sky?… View Article

It’s so often a lack of information that keeps us from getting involved. The Foundation is doing for the public what many could not do for themselves. Anytime that we’re given the truth, people can make good decisions.

Deen Day Smith, Chairman of the Board, Cecil B. Day Investment Company more quotes