Category: Government Reform

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

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
A Savannah Morning News editorial published on June 22, 2018 warns that teacher pension reform is crucial for teachers and taxpayers. The editorial can be accessed online here and is reprinted in full below. Editorial: Reform teacher pension fund to control school taxes  The tax villains ran roughshod this week, passing increases that will appear across several columns in our fall property tax bills. As is always the case, the public is assigning blame. And, as always, they point to the easy targets, the men and women who hold titles such as manager or superintendent; mayor, chairman or president; or alderman, commissioner or school board rep. The one true scoundrel in our tax chaos, who goes by the initials TRS,… View Article
By Kyle Wingfield Few bills gave liberty-minded folks more heartburn during this past legislative session than the so-called distracted driving bill, which would ban most motorists from holding a mobile phone while cruising down Georgia’s roads. There were many reasons for this. First, it didn’t cover all distractions: Holding a hamburger or a mascara brush would still be OK under this legislation, even though either can take a driver’s eyes off the road and at least one hand off the steering wheel. Second, not all distractions created by mobile phones are created equal: The recent spike in accidents and fatalities came well after people started phoning a friend while driving, yet the bill would outlaw holding a phone to talk… View Article
By Kyle Wingfield Lots of things die at the end of a legislative session: bills, constitutional amendments, one’s faith in humanity (just kidding about that last one – mostly). Some of what doesn’t survive is not to be regretted; some is. Rarely do lawmakers stand by as an effective entity fades into the sunset. But there was one such case this year. The Georgia Council on Criminal Justice Reform was created in 2013 – by a law that provided for its dissolution on June 30, 2018, unless legislators voted to keep it running. They did not. So, after five years of vetting and proposing ways to make the state’s criminal justice system work smarter, the council will close less than … View Article

Tax Season is Easier This Year

By Brandon Arnold and Benita M. Dodd Tax season is a traditionally dreadful time of year for Americans. Nobody likes having to account for how much the Internal Revenue Service is reaching into our pockets. But this year, Americans across the country and in Georgia can take a breath of relief, knowing the benefits they’ve already started to experience because of tax reform are only going to get better. The federal tax law cut rates at every level of the income ladder, and in January the tax withholding calculations were adjusted so Americans started seeing those tax cuts show up in their take-home pay. Paychecks are larger. Companies across the country have issued bonuses for their workers. People have more… View Article

Winners and Losers in Georgia’s 2017-18 Session

By Benita M. Dodd The second half of Georgia’s biennial legislative session that ended March 31 turned out to be surprisingly more intensive than expected. Election-year sessions are typically low-key and feel-good; everybody wants to leave ASAP to begin fund-raising, which is prohibited during the session. In summary, legislation moved on transportation, taxes, education and criminal justice reform. It sputtered on health care.  And, as expected, some feel-good but unnecessary bills got through. Undoubtedly, the biggest winner under the Gold Dome was education. With higher-than-expected state revenue estimates, Governor Nathan Deal ended the state shortfall in Georgia’s complicated QBE funding for public schools, long a sore point with advocates of public school spending. Legislation ensures Georgia’s 33,000 state public charter… View Article
By Benita M. Dodd The average Georgian has never been under the Gold Dome. Many have vague memories of a two-headed calf on display during a State Capitol school field trip. For most Georgians, the closest they get to the General Assembly is their legislator’s local townhall meeting or, if they are really interested, watching legislators in action online. For this reason, the Georgia Public Policy Foundation marks Sunshine Week. In its 18th year and celebrated March 11-17 this year, the event highlights government transparency and access to public information. Transparency is the reason the Foundation has campaigned for years to have elected officials and local government share more data online, accessible to ordinary, working Georgians and the watchdog… View Article

The Georgia Public Policy Foundation is a driving force for market-based solutions to policy challenges. The work done by this outstanding organization is making a real impact on the future of Georgia. I personally consider the Foundation a primary source for policy ideas. All Georgians are better off because the Foundation is helping lead the critical policy debates in our state.

Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers more quotes