Category: Government Reform

A Fine Week for Freedom

By Kelly McCutchen Limited government, free markets and private property are the cornerstones of the American success story, but these freedoms can slowly erode over time: Government involves itself in activities never imagined by our Founding Fathers. Regulations multiply as individual responsibility declines and private property rights are weakened for the “common good.” Legislative study committees have become the unlikely forum for leaders concerned about this silent creep of government. In years past, moving legislation to a study committee in the Georgia General Assembly was the political equivalent of being banished to Siberia, never to be seen or heard from again. It was the honorable way to kill a bill, saving the sponsor the embarrassment of having that bill voted… View Article

New City Promises New Hope for Limiting Government

By Geoffrey F. Segal Watch closely as Georgia plays host to a fascinating experiment in public administration. Sandy Springs, an unincorporated suburb of Atlanta in northeast Fulton County, holds enormous promise in demonstrating what local government is, how it should work and what it should be. After decades of opposition, Sandy Springs finally won support for cityhood from the General Assembly this year, when HB 37 finally allowed the 35-year-old Committee for Sandy Springs the opportunity to fulfill its mission to “obtain accountable and responsive local government for the citizens of Sandy Springs.” And in a June 21 referendum on turning the community into one of the largest cities in the state, Sandy Springs citizens approved incorporation with 94.6 percent… View Article

Governing By Network Has Challenges, Rewards

By Benita M. Dodd For want of a nail, the kingdom was lost, goes the rhyme. To Stephen Goldsmith, Harvard professor and former two-term mayor of Indianapolis, sometimes it’s for want of a water cooler that government opportunity is lost. In their new book, “Governing by Network: The New Shape of the Public Sector,” Goldsmith and co-author William D. Eggers make it clear that government agencies are well past the debate about “whether” to contract out instead of handling work themselves. Today, the question is “how” to manage the transformed “government by network” that is replacing the traditional, hierarchical bureaucracy. The book is a reality check in a process that can easily fail, but is doable – if government learns… View Article

Government As Business Can Profit Taxpayers

By Benita M. Dodd Is there any hope that government can ever operate successfully like a business? And why should it? Practical answers to these questions are central to promoting limited government and market-based solutions to public policy. To many Americans, running government like a business seems an impossible and even undesirable goal. Liberals are especially astonished at the thought: Why, they ask, should “good” government be required to mirror those “greedy” capitalists” and “corrupt” corporations? Others maintain that “profit” – which has mysteriously become a dirty word in some circles – should not be the goal of government. And profit is the business of business. The cynics insist that there’s no competition in the public sector, so the bloated… View Article
By Kelly McCutchen In ordering legislators to redraw the state House and Senate district maps by March 1, a panel of federal judges has given Georgia legislators an opportunity to put sound policy over politics. The sound policy in this case is to draw compact, logical districts that keep communities together and encourage competitive elections. Districts designed to protect incumbents of one particular party only encourage voter apathy and cynicism about our government, increase the influence of special interests and produce career politicians who become more interested in increasing their own influence and power rather than representing the people they serve. Our democratic republic is at risk when the average citizen – even politically active citizens – cannot describe the … View Article

Leaner State Budget a Better Fit

By Benita M. Dodd and Kelly McCutchen The wailing and gnashing of teeth under the Gold Dome might easily persuade some Georgians that drastic measures are needed for lawmakers to bridge the budget gap for fiscal 2004. Certainly, some advocates for women, children and seniors predict devastation of needed government services without a tax increase. Even the governor threw up his hands after the House rejected a proposed tobacco tax increase to help fund a $400 million shortfall in Georgia’s $16.3 billion budget for fiscal 2004. “If they don’t want to agree, what do they want to do?” he said at a news conference. The last thing lawmakers want to do is succumb to deadline pressure and pass an arbitrary… View Article
By Benita M. Dodd Georgians need only access the latest lobbyist expenditure report on the State Ethics Commission’s Web site to understand the implications for taxpayers should legislators agree to do away with the registration requirement for state agency lobbyists. For February, according to the State Ethics Commission’s Web site (, lobbyists for the Georgia Board of Regents reported spending more than $11,000 on meals, tickets, receptions and sponsorship of events for legislators. Even so, the Board of Regents was outspent by the Georgia World Congress Center Authority’s lobbyists, who in February reported funding events and tickets for legislators totaling nearly $36,000. The Georgia Rail Passenger Authority spent $250. Whatever the amount, however, the unintended consequence of legislation aimed at… View Article

Determining Government’s Core Functions

A reminder from history Successful government reformers have discovered the necessity of determining what we call “core governing principles.” Core principles are determined by a person’s or a party’s understanding of the role of government. Defining core principles is the crucial first step toward responsible governing because delivering services efficiently and effectively is hardly significant unless government knows what it is supposed to deliver and why. By way of illustration, the debate is whether to “prune and fertilize” or “pull.” Those who believe core functions of government exist wherever government can flourish and grow (meaning wherever needs are present) will only be interested in pruning and fertilizing. Pruning makes a plant healthier, grow faster and look better. Others see government… View Article

Closing the Gap

Like the rest of the nation, Georgia is facing some serious financial challenges – a shrinking tax base, skyrocketing health care costs and a slowing economy. Appropriately and understandably, the governor and the legislature are taking a long, hard look at the numbers and have asked everyone in state government to identify ways to cut costs and trim the budget. This exercise is certainly going to force some tough decisions, and we hope that our leaders will choose the right ones. We have already seen some of the typical reactions to budget crises – eliminating salary increases, slashing slush funds and raising taxes – but rather than striking at the obvious, our leaders should seize this opportunity to dig deeply… View Article

We Need Axes, Not Taxes

By Kelly McCutchen Governor Sonny Perdue gave his first Budget Address this week. It is a speech that no governor likes to give, and one he certainly hopes not to give again. The new administration barely had time to clean up the confetti after its historic victory party in November before finding themselves in the middle of an historic budget crisis. The news was bad. For the first time in 50 years, state revenue collections were less than the previous year – easily the worst budget crisis in the modern era. In his budget address, the governor outlined a plan of budget cuts in some areas, tapping a portion of the state’s “rainy day fund” and a package of fee… 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