Category: Government Reform

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 Spring in their step: The Georgia State Capitol on the first day of spring 2018. 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… 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
This event was held on February 20, 2018 and featured a panel with Len Gilroy, Senior Managing Director of the Pension Integrity Project and  Director of Government Reform at Reason Foundation, and Georgia State Rep. Chuck Martin (R-Alpharetta), Chairman of the Georgia House Budget and Fiscal Oversight Committee. The presentation may be downloaded here: PDF file View Article
News Release | For Immediate Release February 13, 2018 Contact: Benita Dodd  benitadodd@georgiapolicy.org (404-256-4050) Foundation Hosts February 20 Event on Georgia Teacher Pension Reform Atlanta – In 2017, Georgia’s budget included $223 million for the Teacher Retirement System to improve its financial security. This year, Governor Nathan Deal’s FY 2019 budget includes another $361.7 million to prop up the pension fund for Georgia teachers.  Why is this happening? How much longer will Georgia taxpayers have to pump money into the TRS?  More important, what assurances do Georgia teachers entering the profession have that their benefits will be there when they retire? Find out more at “Pension Solvency and Public Education: The Case for Reforming Georgia Teacher Pensions,”… View Article

Lawmakers Have Some Unfinished Business on the Table

By Benita M. Dodd Part two of Georgia’s two-year legislative session is under way. Weather delays notwithstanding, campaign fundraising for this year’s elections is on legislators’ minds so expect a quick 40 days. The governor announced January 10 that he would call a special session if Georgia became a finalist in online behemoth Amazon’s search for its next headquarters. On January 18, Atlanta became one of 20 candidates (out of 238 applicants) that made the first cut. Before legislators rush off, however, there is some important unfinished business on the table since 2017.  Education legislation held over, especially, needs attention. Last year, legislators approved providing grants of $100,000 to fund facilities for public charter schools, which often struggle to pay… View Article
By Benita M. Dodd With politics and the weather in unusual and untimely states of flux in 2017, the 2017 Georgia Legislative Policy Forum was undoubtedly one of the most difficult to organize since the Georgia Public Policy Foundation established the event in 2010. Happily, the annual Forum produced some remarkable, practical solutions to policy challenges in Georgia. About 150 attendees attended the daylong session October 13 in Atlanta, learning from speakers about tax, health care and education reforms specific to Georgia. The morning keynote speaker, chief economist Jonathan Williams of the American Legislative Exchange Council, shared his optimism about the GOP framework proposed for federal tax reform, noting that it has been more than 30 years since President Reagan… View Article

Feeding on Problems: From World Hunger to Abundance

By Harold Brown Harold Brown, Senior Fellow, Georgia Public Policy Foundation Remember when India was a poster-country for overpopulation and starvation? In just one sign, The New York Times carried more than 100 articles per year from 1965 to 1980 that linked India’s name and population. How times have changed. In August 2017, an article in The Times of India proclaimed, “Govt raises foodgrain output to record 275.68 tonnes” (metric). In 1961, the harvest was less than 100 metric tons. This tripling of cereal grain production occurred with almost no change of the land area used for these crops. (See attached chart.) India’s food supply per person has increased over 20 percent since 1970, even as the population more than… View Article

To have an organization dedicated to the study of the problems that face Georgia in a bipartisan way….is absolutely one of the finest things that’s happened to our state.

The late W. H. Flowers, Jr., Chairman, Flowers industries, Inc. more quotes