Category: Government Reform

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
By Kelly McCutchen People love trivia, so here’s a test: Describe the boundaries of your U.S. congressional district, as well as your Georgia House and Senate district. No clue? Don’t feel bad; outside of political operatives that keep district maps on their Palm Pilot, few people can pass the test. That’s why the biggest surprise for many voters on Election Day was not finding out the results of the election after they voted, but discovering what district they were in when they entered the voting booth. It’s bad enough that most voters can’t identify their elected officials, as Jay Leno so often points out with his “man on the street” interviews. But by creating these irregular shapes that we call… View Article
Eva C. Galambos, Ph.D. For twenty years, Atlanta and Sandy Springs have been at odds about the incorporation of Sandy Springs. Atlanta would like to expand its boundaries north into Sandy Springs, while the residents of Sandy Springs would like to establish their own city. Fulton County, which provides local services in Sandy Springs, has endorsed by resolution the right of the people of Sandy Springs to decide their own future. The expansion of Atlanta to encompass Sandy Springs could occur in two ways: 1) by assent of those to be annexed in a referendum, or 2) by consolidation of Atlanta and Fulton County, also requiring a referendum. A rational approach in this debate should center on which of the… View Article

Georgia’s Economics: Right on the Money

Laura Creasy Lately, our state has been inundated with criticisms regarding air quality, education, water resources, and urban sprawl not to mention the possible government ‘solutions’ to such problems. Between the daily criticisms and the reality of long commutes and never-ending construction, one may wonder why so many people are relocating to Georgiaby choice. Well, we have the answer. A recent study by Clemson University comparing economic freedom in the fifty states ranks Georgia 12th, making it a haven for taxpayers and businesses. Moreover, seven southern states (Table 1) in addition to Georgia rank in the top third, demonstrating the South’s commitment to hospitality in more ways than one. The study examined state-level data representing 145 economic indicators… View Article
By Congressman Max Cleland The following article originally appeared in the September 1998 Issue of the Georgia Policy Review. On August 2, 1998, Senator Cleland, Senator Paul Coverdell and Congressman Bob Barr, with the support of Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, joined Veterans Affairs Commissioner Pete Wheeler in launching a project that will hopefully lead to a new veterans cemetary in the metropolitan Atlanta area. One of the greatest honors our country provides for a veteran’s service is the opportunity to be buried in a national cemetery. It is logical that just like everyone else, a veteran’s family wants to have the grave site of their loved one close by. They want to be able to visit as frequently… View Article
Dudley C. Rochelle and Hans von Spakovsky1   In 1988, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Communication Workers of America v. Beck2 that workers required to pay union dues by the terms of a collective bargaining agreement were only required to pay those union dues necessary for the performance of the union’s duties in collective bargaining, contract administration, and grievance adjustment. Workers cannot be forced to pay dues used for political, social, or charitable contributions made by their union. Workers are also entitled to a financial accounting of how their union spends its funds. Unfortunately, not only are most workers unaware of their rights under Beck, but federal enforcement of Beck3 has been almost nonexistent. One of… View Article

Should Georgia Adopt Early Voting?

Hans A. von Spakovsky1 In Georgia, as in other states, we are concerned over the continuing decline in voter turnout. On a national level, the 49% turnout in the presidential election of 1996 was the lowest turnout in a presidential election since Calvin Coolidge was elected in 1924 and the second lowest since 1824. The national turnout of 36%2 of the eligible electorate in the 1998 mid-term election was the lowest turnout in congressional elections since 1942, when America was deeply involved in World War II and millions of American servicemen were overseas. The turnout in Georgia was even lower: in 1996 it was 42.6% and in 1998 it was 31.6%. Early voting, the ability to vote a ballot… View Article

Thank you for what you are doing to lead the nation. The Georgia Public Policy Foundation is leading the way. This is truly one of the leading lights in the state think tank movement. Excellent ideas. It’s well run. For those of you who are donors I congratulate you on your wisdom and I encourage you to do it and do it more.

Arthur Brooks, President, American Enterprise Institute (2015) more quotes