Category: Issues

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
Dr. Laura A. Wheeler Fiscal Research Program School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University Executive Summary The state of Virginia’s recent action to reduce the property tax on motor vehicles has generated interest in several states, including Georgia. Currently, 28 states tax motor vehicles; in 12 states the tax is imposed by local governments, while in 16 the state imposes a uniform tax.… View Article
By Merrill Matthews, Jr. The following article originally appeared in the August 1998 issue of the Georgia Policy Review. Reprinted with permission from the National Center for Policy Analysis. Merrill Matthews Jr. is the vice president of domestic policy at the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) in Dallas, Texas. A National Public Radio story on William Delashmit, 72, recently highlighted the problem of Medicare private contracting. Delashmit suffers from Cogan’s dystrophy, an abnormality of the cornea that has caused him to lose sight in his right eye. There is a 95 percent chance laser surgery could restore his sight. Unfortunately, Dr. William Stark of Johns Hopkins University, Delashmit’s physician, may not be able to help him. According to… View Article
Barbara M. Edwards Fiscal Research Program School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University Executive Summary The individual income tax generated over 45 percent of Georgia’s 1997 tax revenue, making it the largest single source of revenue for the state. While there are differences across states in the structure of income taxes, Georgia’s income tax is typical of the 41 states that levy an income tax on a broad definition of income. Georgia bases its tax on the federal adjusted gross income, as do most other states, and has deductions, exemptions and a rate structure that are consistent with other states. There have been various calls for changes in the state income tax, largely driven by a desire to reduce taxes.… View Article
John G. Malcolm Introduction Long before I was appointed to the Board of Trustees of the Fulton-DeKalb Hospital Authority, which oversees the entire Grady Health System (hereinafter referred to as “Grady”), I had heard and read, in essence, that Grady hemorrhages money, that it was inefficiently run and mismanaged, and that it was a complete waste of taxpayer dollars. However, in a recently-conducted Strategic Opportunity Assessment, APM Management Consultants, an internationally-recognized health care consulting firm, found that Grady “is relatively efficient on a cost per ad- justed discharge basis compared to national and regional institutions” and “very efficient from a clinical utilization perspective.” In other words, APM found that the opportunity to reduce the length of stay of the average… View Article

I wanted to publicly say how much I appreciate Georgia Public Policy Foundation.  For those of you that will be entering the Legislature or are relatively new you may not quite yet appreciate how much we rely on Georgia Public Policy Foundation’s research and work.  As you know we’re a citizen’s legislature.  We have very little staff. They have been an invaluable, invaluable resource to us.  To put this [Forum] on and the regular programs that they do throughout the year make us better at what we do. (At the 2012 Georgia Legislative Policy Forum.)

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