Category: Government Reform

By Kelly McCutchen   New Census Bureau data ranks Georgia’s poverty rate as third highest in the nation. Combined with the state’s next-to-last ranking in personal income growth over the last decade, this is cause for concern. Georgians can either be distracted by divisive class warfare or focus on breaking down the barriers to economic opportunity.  Transportation is a good place to start. Transit should focus first on giving the poor and disabled access to jobs and education. That requires an affordable transit network that matches the “everywhere to everywhere” commuting patterns of metro areas that developed in the age of the automobile. Education is the best pathway to opportunity. Nothing should stand between a child and a good education,… View Article
(The Georgia Public Policy Foundation and the Competitive Enterprise Institute released this Issue Analysis that discusses the impact of federal banking laws in Georgia.) By John Berlau   Few states have been hit as hard by the financial crisis as Georgia.  With her economic engine humming and unemployment hovering around 5 percent for several years until 2008, Georgia suddenly saw thousands of mortgages our and dozens of banks fail in a slide that continues to this day. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation has closed at least 80 banks in Georgia since 2008, more bank failures than in any other state in the union.  Even the largest banks in the Peach State are facing a struggle.  In March, Atlanta-based Sun Trust… View Article

Seven Principles of Sound Public Policy

By Lawrence W. Reed The following contains excerpts from a speech given by Larry Reed, an adjunct scholar with the Georgia Public Policy Foundation and president of the Midland, Michigan-based Mackinac Center for Public Policy, to the Economic Club of Detroit in 2001.The speech outlines key principles that should provide valuable guidance to all current and future policymakers. …I know that this Club has heard many policy addresses by many leaders in government, business and academia-policy addresses that dealt in some detail with specific pressing issues of the day, from transportation to education to health care and countless other important topics. At the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, our specialty is researching and recommending detailed prescriptions for today’s policy questions,… View Article

License to Kill Business

By Benita M. Dodd From a historic building on the banks of the Etowah River in Rome, Ga., Ed Watters and his co-workers design elaborate gardens and manage a successful landscape company with a staff of more than 60. Behind the serene décor of the Outdoor Living Studio, however, lurk onerous regulatory hoops that the company must jump through to do business. One of those hurdles is licensing. The Institute for Justice reports that Georgia is one of just 10 states that require landscape workers – known as landscape architects – to have an occupational license to work in Georgia. According to the Secretary of State’s Web site, applicants must pass both a national and state examination. According to the… View Article
By Kelly McCutchen and John Berlau The news that Bank of America is again testing new fees is likely to prompt even more consumers, in Georgia and other states, to take their business away from big financial institutions and give it to regional banks and credit unions. While competition is the American way, it’s important to note that Bank of America and other banks are responding to federal price controls that raise costs for debit card processing. Now, smaller banks and credit unions (and their customers) are at risk from the same Washington price controls. These price controls, contained in the Durbin Amendment of “Dodd-Frank,” the so-called financial reform law Congress rammed through in 2010, offer no tangible benefits to… View Article
By Kelly McCutchen In a typical election year, legislators tend to adopt a “do-nothing” attitude lest they somehow offend potential voters. This year in Georgia could, and should, be different in order to take advantage of several transformative opportunities. Georgia has the fourth-highest incarceration rate in the nation. This year offers an opportunity to implement reforms – proven in Texas and other states – to make our streets safer, change lives and save taxpayers money. Implementing more effective and less expensive sanctions for non-violent offenders, including treatment for drug addition and mental health issues, could save taxpayers more than $250 million. Eight states are currently considering significant income tax cuts. Last year, the tax reform council appointed by the Legislature… View Article
By Steve Stancil Innovation is nothing new for Georgia’s State Properties Commission. As the state’s real estate portfolio manager, the agency with its staff of 12 is responsible for the management of all state-owned and leased space and the acquisition and disposition of all state-owned property. Since its reorganization in 2005, the commission has applied strategies and approaches to improve state services in space, asset and transaction management. This includes a Web site to identify potential sites for state agencies’ space needs and an electronic tracking system. Additionally, an interactive, Web-based data warehouse includes more than 1,900 leases, 15,000 buildings and 1.1 million acres of owned and leased land. Last year, the commission began a study of underutilized and surplus… View Article
By Benita M. Dodd One of the greatest compliments paid to the Georgia Public Policy Foundation after the first Georgia Legislative Policy Briefing last year came from a representative of the think tank trailblazer in educating policy-makers: the Texas Public Policy Foundation. Marc Levin, panelist in a criminal justice session that highlighted the progress in his home state of Texas, declared Georgia’s foray an “incredible conference!” “We’ve been doing this for eight years in Texas and I can’t believe this was your first one,” said Levin, whose Texas policy group’s two-day legislative policy briefings draw more than 600 participants annually. Specifically, Levin was impressed at how many of Georgia’s legislators attended: “We have to put them on panels in order… View Article

USDA’s Feeding Frenzy

By Harold Brown How does the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) budget grow in proportion to the shrinkage of its mission? Perhaps it is a reward for agriculture’s phenomenal success. Its increased efficiency is one of the miracles of the 20th century. Or, just maybe, the USDA’s budget grows with its emphasis on missions far removed from assisting U.S. agriculture. The growth in farm productivity from 1948 to 2002 was 1.8 percent annually, faster than non-farm productivity (1.2 percent). But farm residents make up less than 2 percent of the population today, compared to 40 percent at the beginning and one-fourth in the middle of the 20th century. The number of farms decreased by more than 50 percent in the… View Article

Building Authority Builds a Better Agency

By Steve Stancil The core mission of the Georgia Building Authority (GBA) is to provide a clean, comfortable and safe environment on Capitol Hill. Much like former Indianapolis Mayor Stephen Goldsmith suggests in his “Yellow Pages test,” the authority recognized several years ago that some services are not part of that core mission of essential services: The state and taxpayers would be better and more efficiently served by third-party private enterprise or specialty agencies. Today, of 18 services under GBA auspices, only three are wholly implemented by the GBA. Six services are provided by a blend of GBA and contracted services and nine are entirely contracted out. Additionally, police protection, construction project management on bond-funded projects, van pool services and… View Article

The Foundation always tells the truth.

Governor Roy Barnes more quotes