Category: Government Reform

USDA’s Feeding Frenzy

By Harold Brown Harold Brown, Senior Fellow, Georgia Public Policy Foundation 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… 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

Are Georgia’s OPEB Liabilities a Problem?

By Allen Buckley   The media often reports about the funding problems of state and local pension plans, such as the plans maintained by Illinois, California and New Jersey. Georgia’s pension plans have also received significant press as well, although most of it has been positive. Regularly overlooked are liabilities relating to post-retirement medical obligations.   In a February 28, 2006 press release titled “Georgia Named One of Top Five Best States for Pension Funds,” Governor Sonny Perdue boasted: “I am proud of Georgia’s high pension fund ratio.” The article stated the State’s pension funding ratio was 101 percent, trailing only Florida and North Carolina.   Like most pension plans, Georgia’s plans have been hit hard by the recession and… View Article

Eight Affordable Ideas for Georgia

By Kelly McCutchen The General Assembly gathers in Atlanta next week facing a deficit of well over $1 billion. Across-the-board budget cuts are no longer sufficient to bridge the budget gap. Georgia needs more innovative, transformative ideas. The budget would appear to limit the state’s options, but there are still several progressive reforms that won’t break the bank. Tax Reform: Pro-growth tax reforms that shift taxes to consumption and away from taxing work and investment would improve Georgia’s competitive position without costing money. Simplifying the tax code would also have positive effects. Finally, providing local governments with the flexibility, with voter approval, to temporarily shift sales tax proceeds to operations could avoid damaging property tax increases.   Regulatory Reform View Article
By Eric Tresh Communications service providers offer voice, video and Internet access services to customers throughout Georgia. These services are provided by a number of different types of companies using a variety of broadband technologies. For example, telecommunications, satellite and Internet companies now offer video programming service. In addition, cable providers often have subsidiaries that provide voice services and a number of companies use the Internet to provide audio and video conferencing services. These services all benefit consumers and enhance productivity throughout the state. In addition to the benefits for consumers, broadband services are significant drivers of Georgia’s economy. Broadband providers invest hundreds of millions of dollars each year into Georgia’s economy, creating jobs and enhancing infrastructure. While technology has… View Article
By Benita M. Dodd The free-market think tanks that focus on state policy issues often exchange and replicate their successful ideas and case studies in effective government. Reinventing the wheel to implement each issue in each state is unproductive and inefficient, which is why the Georgia Public Policy Foundation is proud to admit that its ideas proposed in this state frequently have been tried and tested elsewhere. Among the recent ideas the Foundation has introduced to Georgia are the tax reforms proposed in New Mexico by sister think tank the Rio Grande Foundation;  transportation improvementsproposed by Robert Poole, director of Transportation Studies at the Reason Foundation, and enhancements in higher education proposed by Richard Vedder, director of the Center… View Article

Georgia Must Move from Moderation to Innovation

By Tom Greene   As we close in on November, Georgia’s voters are firming up opinions about which Gubernatorial candidate should lead us into the 21st Century.   No doubt each candidate brings certain strengths and weaknesses to the race. And each brings a passion for the state of Georgia. Why else would anyone wander around kissing babies, pressing flesh and eating rubber chicken at every Rotary Club in the Peach State? It’s a grueling task and one that most people cannot fathom. That is, unless his spouse is already planning her Christmas party at the mansion on West Paces Ferry Road in Atlanta.   So which of the cast members really has the passion to bring about the necessary change that will… View Article
By Kelly McCutchen   In just six months, Georgia voters will choose the political leadership to guide the state through a critical time in its history. Balancing the budget will again be painful, along with ongoing challenges in education, transportation, water and economic growth. It will take more than incremental approaches and status quo thinking. Voters must demand leadership that unites Georgians with a bold vision for our future. Here are a few examples.   Education: Georgia’s dropout rate is shrinking, but remains one of the highest in the nation. Much of the problem can be traced back to poor reading skills. Older students unable to read are often embarrassed in a traditional classroom setting. Programs using online education and strong teacher… View Article
By Mike Klein   Each day across Georgia, the state Department of Corrections prepares enough meals to feed the population of the city of Marietta. Breakfast and lunch are served to nearly 60,000 adult prisoners. Paying for 31 state prisons annually costs taxpayers $1 billion, including the cost to manage 150,000 parolees.   State prison populations declined last year, the nation’s first year-to-year drop since 1972, according to a report released this month by the Pew Center on the States. Georgia, however, posted the sixth largest percentage increase in the nation, a 1.6 percent growth rate, or 843 more adult felons.   Just four states incarcerate more state prisoners than Georgia. As taxpayer funds dwindle, can Georgia continue to spend 6 percent of… View Article

Long-Term Budget Reality Requires Bold Innovation

By Kelly McCutchen   With state revenues finally ending their freefall and a balanced budget working its way through the House, it’s reasonable to expect the job will be easier next year. Georgia’s fiscal year 2011 budget is balanced. Unfortunately, it’s with nearly $2 billion of federal stimulus funds. That’s money that will not be available next year. And Georgia may have missed several golden opportunities to avoid a repeat of this year’s budget drama.   Unlike most recessions that are followed by a rapid recovery, many experts believe the economy – and state revenues – will recover much more slowly this time around. With the burden of massive new health care spending and significant federal tax increases on the horizon, it’s… View Article

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