Category: Issues

By Evgenia Sidorova  The Teachers Retirement System (TRS) of Georgia alarmed legislators and stakeholders when it requested over $588 million in increased contributions in the 2017 and 2018 legislative sessions combined, largely the result of missed actuarial assumptions. Given such a steep rise, the relatively small $25 million budget increase requested for 2019 may have signaled to some that things might be turning around for the troubled pension plan. But this would be mistaken, according to a new report published by the Georgia Public Policy Foundation and the Pension Integrity Project at Reason Foundation that finds the Georgia TRS has several shortcomings that could further degrade its long-run solvency. The pension system currently has $24.8 billion in unfunded pension liabilities,… View Article

Medicaid Expansion, ‘Free’ Money That Costs a Lot

By Dave Emanuel “The federal government will pay 100 percent of the costs for Medicaid expansion through 2016. After that, it will drop to 90 percent by 2020.” How can you beat a deal like that? Apparently, policymakers in 33 states don’t think you can. They have expanded Medicaid coverage under the provisions of the Affordable Care Act. Under the Affordable Care Act’s provisions for Medicaid expansion, virtually anyone with annual earnings at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level is eligible. What is left unsaid is that it is anybody’s guess what options are available to a Medicaid recipient whose income rises to 139 percent of the qualifying level. Consequently, the specter of losing coverage or having… View Article

Georgia Benefits from Nuclear Plant Expansion

By Steven Biegalski The nuclear reactor expansion project at Vogtle Electric Generating Plant, near Augusta, has been plagued by troubles: Westinghouse declaring bankruptcy, construction delays and cost overruns. Fortunately, completion of the project is still commercially viable. Moreover, it will have numerous benefits to the citizens of Georgia and to the nation as a whole. The price tag for Vogtle Units 3 and 4 has ballooned. As a reminder, costs also soared for Vogtle’s Units 1 and 2, initially estimated at $1 billion and ending up costing about $9 billion during an extended construction period of about 13 years. Westinghouse’s bankruptcy led to the scuttling of a similar project in South Carolina last year. Given the three-decade gap in U.S.… View Article

Georgia’s Teachers Retirement System

Georgia TRS: Historic Solvency Analysis and Prospects for The Future  By Jen Sidorova and Anil Niraula Project Directors: Leonard Gilroy, Reason Foundation Kyle Wingfield, Georgia Public Policy Foundation The Teachers Retirement System of Georgia (TRS) surprised many during the 2017 legislative session by requesting an additional $223.9 million in annual funding, then did so again in 2018, requiring an additional $364.9 million in contributions. The nearly $600 million in annual increases to teacher pension funding have been necessary in large part because of growing unfunded liabilities – colloquially known as pension debt – which were reported at $23.6 billion in 2016. Since then the debt has grown to $24.8 billion, but in contrast with previous years TRS requested a relatively… View Article

FBI Releases 2017 Uniform Crime Report

(September 24, 2018): The FBI has  released its Uniform Crime Reporting statistics for 2017, a compilation of the volume and rate of violent and property crime offenses for the nation and by state. In Georgia, violent crime declined 8.5 percent overall in 2017 compared to 2016, but the murder rate was up nearly 2 percent. Some Georgia details from the FBI database: Violent  crimes declined 8.5 percent Rape crimes declined 20.5 percent Robbery declined 18 percent Aggravated assault declined 2.3 percent Property crime declined 4 percent The murder rate increased 1.9 percent Among Georgia’s metro areas, Albany had the highest rates of violent crime, murder and aggravated assault. Columbus was worst for rape and robbery. Macon was worst… View Article
By Harold Brown A year ago this month, the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico was devastated by Hurricane Maria. Apportioning blame and credit for the island’s recovery is almost beside the point. That has been complicated not only by the physical, economic and social destruction caused by Maria but by economic and demographic problems beginning long before the hurricane hit. Puerto Rico is one of the few places in the world where population is in a steep decline (see chart). For 2017, the CIA World Factbook lists it second from the bottom out of 234 countries for population growth. According to the Census, the population increased until 2004, then declined, reaching the lowest population in three decades last year. The… View Article

Transit’s New Technologies Leaving Planners Behind

By Eric J. Tanenblatt  When it comes to transportation in Atlanta, there are two things on which everyone can agree: Our cash-strapped transit grid is bad, and our traffic is worse.  Here, where one need only cast their gaze skyward to the swoop of cranes fashioning a towering, new skyline of glimmering glass and steel to understand the sea of red that drowns our highways each night, it’s plainly clear that growing pains are at hand – and, with them, worsening road congestion.  Our sprawling city is in desperate need of expanded public transportation. And it’s critical that it be equitable and accessible, because Atlanta will only truly be connected and vibrant when its mass transit system has equal buy-in… View Article
By Benita M. Dodd In 2017, U.S. World and News Report’s ranking of the best states to live featured not a single Southern state in the top 10. Georgia, at No. 32 overall, finished at No. 31 in the education rankings; Massachusetts was No. 1 in education and No. 8 overall. When it comes to education, it’s nothing new for Georgia to end up in the bottom half of national rankings. But a new report by University of Texas researchers suggests it’s not education necessarily at fault in Georgia and other Southern states. It’s ranking systems that fail to make an “apples to apples” comparison between states. “Students arrive in class on the first day of school with different backgrounds,… View Article

2018 Georgia Legislative Policy Forum Agenda

PDF Version: Agenda 2018  2018 Georgia Legislative Policy Forum AGENDA 7:30-8:00  Breakfast Buffet 8:00 Welcome: Kyle Wingfield President, Georgia Public Policy Foundation 8:05 Introduction of Breakfast Keynote Speaker Marissa McCall Dodson, Public Policy Director, Southern Center for Human Rights 8:10-8:50 Breakfast Keynote Judge Steven C. Teske Chief Judge, Juvenile Court, Clayton Judicial Circuit ‘Criminal Justice Reform for a Secure Future’ 9:00-10:35 SESSION I A Responsible Path Forward for Health Care Change is coming slowly at the federal level even as health care costs and premiums continue to rise in the states. Georgia is not among the states that expanded the category of population covered by Medicaid, whose rising costs are unsustainable. Total Medicaid spending in FY 2016 was $574.2… View Article

The Black Hole of Camden County’s Spaceport

By Jim Renner My friend works hard at a low-paying job. Every week he buys a lottery ticket, even though he knows the odds of winning are miniscule. For him, it’s inexpensive entertainment. But if he spent half his paycheck on lottery tickets, we’d all agree he was crazy for wasting his money chasing an impossible dream. Camden County, Ga., doesn’t understand this logic. The county administrator and commissioners have spent almost $5 million taxpayer dollars pursuing a fantasy with almost zero chance of success. They dream of building a commercial spaceport for small start-up companies to launch rockets over Cumberland Island National Seashore. They make extravagant claims about creating jobs and attracting businesses, and bemoan the children forced to… View Article

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