Category: Government Reform

By Benita M. Dodd Opportunity is knocking as the door opens on Georgia’s 2017-18 legislative session. In a state with a Republican governor since 2002 and GOP majorities in both chambers since 2004, it’s time for legislators to welcome policy reforms that can improve income, opportunity and well-being. In 2014, the Legislature capped the personal income tax rate at 6 percent. That’s a start. But legislators ignored a provision in the 2015 Transportation Funding Act (HB 170) to create a “Special Joint Committee on Georgia Revenue Structure” that would “during the 2016 legislative session cause to be introduced in the House of Representatives one or more bills or resolutions relating to tax reform.” Reforming Georgia’s individual income tax rate was… View Article

Lessons and Opportunities from The Election

By Kelly McCutchen It’s not always as good, or bad, as it seems. The same can be said of this year’s national election. Conservatives and liberals should temper their enthusiasm and despair; this election was not an endorsement of any ideology. It was a revolt, as Peggy Noonan so aptly puts it, by the “unprotected” against the “protected.” At its core were middle-class Americans, who had done everything they were told to do, but were frustrated by rising taxes and higher education and health care costs as their wages remained stagnant. They had lost hope in the future, for their children and in the American Dream. They felt disgust at the ruling political class and their crony friends and corrupt… View Article

Tempers in a Teacup Dilute Women’s Issues

By Benita M. Dodd The headline in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution this week sums up stormy presidential politics: “2016 race devolves into ugly fight over treatment of women.” Many believe the battle over which presidential candidate is more endearing to women is the crux of the women’s vote. It isn’t. Not every woman is a “victim” seeking protection and a “safe place.” Not even most of them. There are working mothers, single mothers, stay-at-home moms and women who chose not to have children. They are wives, single women, retirees and senior citizens, welfare recipients, homemakers, home-based workers, professionals and business owners. Just like the lifestyles women choose or prefer, their policy issues run the gamut. They believe in limited government and… View Article

How Government Can Speed Broadband Access

By Kelly McCutchen Internet access is foundational in today’s economy. Lack of access can grind business to a halt and hobble critical services including health care, transportation and education. As a result, forward-thinking telecommunication policy is a priority in making Georgia a great place to live and economically competitive. Georgia still has work to do to increase access to broadband but the news is good: Statewide, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reports show, 87 percent of Georgians have access to wired broadband connections with speeds of 25 megabits per second (mbps) or higher and 93 percent have access to speeds of 10 mbps or higher. A whopping 99 percent of Georgia’s population has access to wireless broadband of 10 mbps or… View Article
By Benita M. Dodd The Georgia Public Policy Foundation’s 25th Anniversary Celebration Dinner and Freedom Award takes place on November 11 at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre and is keynoted by John Stossel. Through the years, the Georgia Public Policy Foundation has presented the prestigious Freedom Award to a notable Georgian who has exemplified the principles of private enterprise and personal integrity. Previous recipients include U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Flowers Industries chairman emeritus William Flowers, the former U.S. Attorney General Griffin Bell, Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy; Deen Day Smith, chair of the Cecil B. Day Investment Company; former Governor and United States Senator Zell Miller; former Southern Company president Bill Dahlberg, Medal of Honor recipient General Raymond… View Article

Guide to the Issues: Pension Reform

Principles: Any reforms to pensions should consider the long-term solvency of a plan and protect the already promised benefits for employees already in the system. The benefits in a public employee retirement system should be sustainable, secure and affordable: Provide retirement security for all members (current and future) and retirees Manage and mitigate taxpayer and pension system exposure to financial risk and market risk Reduce long-term costs for employers or taxpayers as well as employees Stabilize contribution rates Ensure the ability to recruit 21st-century employees Improve governance & transparency The best solutions emerge from collaborative efforts involving a broad cross-section of stakeholders in a process that examines flaws in a pension system, explores and analyzes all possible methods of reform,… View Article
California State Democratic Sen. Holly Mitchell and various law enforcement groups in California have reached an agreement regarding the fate of a bill introducing various reform measures to the state’s civil asset forfeiture laws, according to The Los Angeles Times of August 5, 2016, The bill, S.B. 443, changes the requirement for seizing assets to a criminal conviction, but only for seizures of less than $40,000 in value.  This amount comes by way of a concession to the law enforcement community, who perceived the bill as too far-reaching without this addendum. “At its core, [the previous version of SB 443] sends basically a message to drug dealers that the cost of doing business has gone down,” said Ventura County… View Article
By Benita Dodd The media hype surrounding the political parties’ national conventions spotlights the enormous discord created by personalities and politics as the presidential election approaches. Getting short shrift amid slogans and the scramble for dollars and votes are the policy proposals that will affect the lives of Americans — and Georgians — long after November 8. Many citizens dismiss the states’ impact on issues at the national level — federal taxes, immigration, the military and education policy, for example. Too many believe the answers depend on who is elected president and to Congress. It’s not always so. It behooves Georgians to pay close attention to innovative ideas closer to home. States are often incubators, testing life-enhancing policies that can… View Article

Few Bright Spots Under The Gold Dome

By Kelly McCutchen Missed opportunities. That’s the best description of the just completed legislative session. The General Assembly is often, and appropriately, chided for passing last-minute bills with little debate or study. This year, several study committees put in work prior to the session to craft comprehensive reforms in education, tax and welfare reform. The work was for naught; none of the proposals passed. Education was pushed to the forefront when Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal appointed an Education Reform Commission in January 2015. Replacing Georgia’s 1980s-era funding formula was the primary focus, a feat two previous Governors had attempted and failed. After months of meetings and several fits and starts, the Commission released its 86-page final report full of good… View Article
By Benita M. Dodd March 13-19 is Sunshine Week, the annual nationwide celebration of government transparency and access to public information. It’s come just in time to reinforce the need for increased transparency under the Gold Dome to empower more Georgia citizens.   Georgia House and Senate floor sessions have been broadcast live over the Internet since 2003. This is hugely beneficial because average Georgians are able to follow legislation online, instead of having to trek over in person to the State Capitol. Granted, it does not provide as much access as the special interests, activists and lobbyists who are present (and often behind the scenes, too) at the Capitol to follow and influence debate, discussion and voting. Still, it… View Article

I thank you for what you do. For 15 years you’ve been researching and writing on issues that matter. You take on tough questions, you apply innovative thinking, you push for action, and you do it all without regard to politics.

President George W. Bush more quotes