Category: Issues

The following article is reprinted with permission from the March 1999 edition of Georgia County Government Magazine, published by the Association County Commissioners of Georgia, the 85-year-old education, training and legislative advocacy organization of all 159 Georgia county governments. ACCG may be reached on the Web or by writing 50 Hurt Plaza, Suite 1000, Atlanta, Georgia 30303. In his first budget message over eight years ago, Governor Miller quoted from the old country song, warning us that we could not continue “drinking that new bubble up and eating that rainbow stew.” From that admonition, he carried forward on his plan to reduce state agency spending and therefore the size of state government. Even with his 5% annual redirections and the… View Article

It’s Time to Clean Up the Property Tax Mess

By Jerry R. Griffin, Executive Director Association County Commissioners Of Georgia The following article is reprinted with permission from the March 1999 edition of Georgia County Government Magazine, published by the Association County Commissioners of Georgia, the 85-year-old education, training and legislative advocacy organization of all 159 Georgia county governments. ACCG may be reached on the Web or by writing 50 Hurt Plaza, Suite 1000, Atlanta, Georgia 30303. Every year hundreds of bills and resolutions are introduced to fix the property tax. So often a bill will focus on a very small section of the law and when examined carefully it is discovered that, rather than fixing a problem, it creates new problems. Part of the problem results from legislators… View Article
Randall W. Duncan, Esq.; John C. Speir, Ph.D.; Tammy S. Meredith, Ph.D. This report demonstrates the value of such research, and the policy questions that can arise from a rational and thorough debate of the many issues emanating from the current controversy. Time is of the essence. Even as the Georgia criminal justice system is showing symptoms of stress during the “best of times” (low unemployment, budget surplus, growing economy, strong tax base), the state is facing specific demo- graphic trends. In particular, the projected population “bulge” of youth in the next ten years, especially those in economically disadvantaged groups, could turn the current decline in crime and threaten the system with another corrections crisis. If an increase in crime… View Article
Steve Langford The rush by many Georgia cities to enter new businesses and expand existing ones, in direct and unfair competition with small and large private companies, poses the primary long-term fiscal challenge to Governor Barnes and the Legislature. Many cities are adding to their traditional services — water, sewer, trash, gas and electric — such new ventures as cable TV, telecommunications, hotels, real estate development, construction services, appliance sales, etc. This alarming trend in local government is the purest form of socialism and is crashing onto the scene at a time when all other levels of government are discovering inefficiencies and privatizing services at a steady pace. The problems with government expansion into these areas are evident: · Government… View Article
By Betsey Weltner At a time when state government is downsizing, privatizing services and deregulating utilities, relieved Georgia taxpayers have a new threat on the horizon — municipal development of telephone, cable and Internet services. The high-tech, high-risk telecommunications industry is no place for local governments to be, but the power of cities to tax and regulate the private industry “competition” has created an uneven playing field in Georgia. Further, while dozens of Georgia cities are either planning or implementing costly telecommunications systems, they are doing so without public approval of any kind. Consider a Georgia statewide poll taken in September 1998 on the subject of municipal “competition” with private telecommunications industries. 500 registered voters across the state were asked… View Article

What Indianapolis Can Teach Georgia

Peter T. Leeson Something dramatic is happening in Indianapolis, Indiana. The quality of public services is rising. Taxpayers have saved over $550 million since 1991, and the government’s coffers are overflowing. Taxes are falling and $800 million of new investment is improving the city. So what’s going on in America’s 12th largest city? And more importantly, what can Georgia learn from it? The pro-competition philosophy of Indianapolis’s cutting-edge mayor, Stephen Goldsmith, is attracting nationwide attention. Mayor Goldsmith, also referred to as the “CEO of Indianapolis,” has brought free-market theory to bear on the city’s once-sluggish public sector. Competition is the cornerstone of Indianapolis’s current prosperity. Goldsmith uses what he calls the “Yellow Pages Test” to weed out waste and inefficiency… View Article

A Review of Georgia’s Education Standards

By Vani L. Krishnamurthy   Introduction While many blame schools and teachers for the failure to produce a learned, well-equipped individual after the completion of high school, one additional factor in a public school student’s education is being overlooked – state education standards. Georgia recently revised its standards, the Quality Core Curriculum (QCC). The new QCC has many successes and is a milestone in terms of progressing from the old standards, but there is always room for improvement in any sector of public school education. Although this revised QCC succeeds in improving Georgia’s public grade schools, it has fallen short of some of its goals. When teachers were surveyed by the Atlanta Journal Constitution before the revision, most agreed that… View Article
Roy Barnes and Guy Millner have each proposed using state funds to reduce property taxes on homeowners. Both proposals are relatively straight forward. Barnes proposes adding a new homestead exemption of $20,000, which would be in addition to the existing homestead exemptions, and would be phased in over time. The state would reimburse local gov- ernments for the loss in property tax revenue. Millner proposes an income tax credit equal to 20 percent of a homeowner’s property taxes, up to a maximum credit of $500. The cost of these two proposals differ. We estimate that the Barnes proposal, when fully phased in, will cost the state government between $610 and $630 million per year, while the Millner proposal will cost… View Article

Obstruction of Justice: The State Crime Lab in Crisis

By Joe D. Whitley, Daniel J. Adamson In today’s atmosphere of political pragmatism and fiscal responsibility, few people see government as a cure-all for society’s ills; instead, our elected officials increasingly look for solutions in partnerships with the private sector. One such private-sector partnership should be considered as a means to improve the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s (GBI) State Crime Lab. Founded nearly forty years ago as the second statewide forensics facility in the nation, our crime lab was once a leader in the field. Today, however, it is a prime example of a facility in need of massive reform. Georgia’s crime lab is plagued by neglect, an ever-increasing caseload, and problems resulting from changes in the nature and investigation… View Article

A Georgia Sales Tax For the 21st Century

Roy Bahl & Richard Hawkins Fiscal Research Program School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University Executive Summary The sales tax has some significant advantages for Georgians, and voters seem to prefer new sales taxes to increases in income or property taxes. One advantage is the relatively small liability per transaction. Many Georgians have no idea how much sales tax they pay over the course of a year. Additional advantages include the fact that taxpayers understand the structure of the sales tax, the sales tax reaches virtually everyone and the state collects tax revenue from consumers who live in other states (e.g., tourists). With respect to its disadvantages, tax payments are not deductible from the federal income tax (while income and… View Article

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