Category: Issues

Georgia Should Lift Ban on Mail-Order Prescriptions

By Kelly McCutchen It seems that just about everyone has caught on that ordering prescriptions by mail can help health-care consumers save hundreds and even thousands of dollars. But Georgians can’t count their savings just yet: Georgia law prohibits Georgia pharmacies from mailing prescriptions to individuals. The purpose of the law is to protect the walk-in retail trade of corner drug stores. That well-intended protectionism carries a hefty price: Georgians are unable to reap the cost-savings and convenience that consumers across the nation are enjoying. The General Assembly should consider putting the benefits of millions of consumers over the parochial interests of a few pharmacists. Ordering pharmaceuticals by mail is so popular and cost-effective that most large employers give employees… 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
By Benita M. Dodd Georgia’s House lawmakers are about to consider the governor’s proposal to raise Georgia’s tobacco taxes, an action that some say “produces both needed revenues and public health benefits.” “If we must raise a tax to meet our goals as a state, this is the one to raise,” the governor argues. Research proves the tax hike is wrong on all counts. Aside from its patent unfairness, this targeted tax will produce neither the revenue nor the health benefits that the General Assembly is counting on. It doesn’t deserve the legislative stamp of approval. Lawmakers need to insist on balancing state government’s budget the way reasonable Georgia taxpayers would theirs: by cutting back, streamlining operations and making do.… 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

Tax Amnesty: Hidden Costs Outweigh Benefits

By Morgan Smith During the next few weeks, Georgia’s legislators will be looking for creative solutions to the state’s budget crisis. One possibility being considered is a tax amnesty, which is a tool many states have turned to in recent years. While the prospect of easy money can sound attractive, a closer look suggests that tax amnesties are not usually the right answer and should not be an option for Georgia. The first problem is that tax amnesties typically bring in much less incremental revenue than is reported. States like to announce how much revenue comes in the door during the amnesty period, but usually fail to account for the fact that most of these taxes would have been collected… View Article
By Ronald G. Cummings Over the last year or so there has been considerable controversy in Georgia concerning policies related to the planning and management of Georgia’s water resources. Two key issues in this controversy relate to protecting public interests in water, and reliance on markets as a means for resolving critical problems in reallocating water over time. These two issues are often combined within the context of the question: “Are Georgia’s waters a public resource or a commodity to be bought and sold?” This question is at best confusing and at worst misleading. The issue of whether or not Georgia’s water resources are a “public resource” is one that is independent of – not related to – the issue… View Article

Many Questions Remain for Atlanta After United Water

By Geoffrey F. Segal On Friday, January 24, the city of Atlanta terminated its rocky relationship with United Water, ending the venture into private water operation. Over the past several months the mayor and her staff have let it be known that they were unhappy with United’s performance operating the city’s waterworks—resulting in a three-month cure period that abruptly ended Friday afternoon. During this period, both sides painted themselves into a corner, leaving little or no room to maneuver. Perhaps the termination was nothing more than the culmination of months of political pressure and stances from which the city could not back away. Unfortunately, the people of Atlanta will still be paying for this costly decision for years to come.… View Article

The Atlanta Water Privatization: What Can We Learn?

By Geoffrey F. Segal I. Context In 1997, the City of Atlanta privatized their waterworks system, entering into a 20-year contract with United Water. At the time, it was the largest and longest privatization of infrastructure in U.S. history. The deal garnered many awards including one from the National Council on Public-Private Partnerships and the U.S. Conference of Mayors. However, in the past few months several issues have arisen in Atlanta regarding the performance of the water system, contractor payments or change orders, and the status of the system before the contract was entered into. Ultimately, while not perfect, the Atlanta water privatization presents a valuable opportunity from which to learn—if nothing else, it teaches us what not to do.… 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

“I am here today to thank the Georgia Public Policy Foundation for your role in building a fiscally conservative, pro-growth state. Not only did you help pave the way for a new generation of leadership, you continue to provide key policy advice and to hold us accountable to the principles we ran on. In short, you have had a transforming influence on this state. We are healthier, stronger, and better managed because of your efforts.

State Senator Eric Johnson, President pro tempore, Georgia State Senate more quotes