Category: Issues

Transit Needs a Ticket to Transparency

At its second meeting August 2 at MARTA headquarters, the House Commission on Transit Governance and Funding heard from MARTA CEO Keith Parker. By Benita M. Dodd In March 2017, the Georgia House of Representatives voted to establish a Georgia House Commission on Transit Governance and Funding that sunsets by December 2019. The resolution cites the need to study developing a “unified regional governance structure;” “creating efficiency and coordination among providers;” “regional, integrated and comprehensive mass transportation,” and, “an analysis of potential methods of funding.” The commission is charged with undertaking “a study of the conditions, needs, issues and problems mentioned above or related thereto and recommend any action or legislation.” The commission met in June and August 2.… View Article
study by the Mineta Transportation Institute should make policymakers, lawmakers and taxpayers question why streetcar projects are being funded through transportation agencies and grants. The institute examined streetcars in Little Rock, Ark., Memphis, Tenn., Portland, Ore., Seattle, Wash., and Tampa, Fla. “[T]here does seem to be a real disconnect between enthusiasm for the streetcar and its transportation performance,” the authors found. “In most cities, streetcar ridership is very low and compares quite unfavorably with the ridership on a local bus route operating in the same general area. A strict transportation assessment would tend to regard a streetcar that had lower ridership than a typical bus route as a misuse of scarce transportation resources. “But few of the informants tended… View Article

Reading is Fundamental to American Liberty

By Gerard Robinson “Reading is fundamental” was a popular slogan when I was an elementary student in Los Angeles during the 1970s. Today, parents, teachers and tutors stress the importance of literacy to public, private, home and virtual school students. Reading is not only still fundamental; it is even more profoundly so than it was 40 years ago. Why? Our knowledge economy, economic self-sufficiency, and military soundness require a highly literate population. To comprehend just how important reading is to American liberty, it is worth a look backward to see what our founding generation believed about literacy. The Founders’ decision to dissolve their bonds with England was a declaration for the liberty to learn as much as it was a… View Article

Kicking the Deadly Opioid Abuse Habit

By Megan May Drug overdoses, mainly opioid-affiliated, have surged in the United States in recent years. According to recent health data, deaths from drug overdose will soon surpass the number of deaths due to motor vehicle accidents each year in Georgia. This substance abuse problem warrants serious concern regarding Georgia’s state of public health, and the problem only escalates as weeks pass. Tackling the opioid epidemic is no easy feat, and understanding the scope of the problem is the first step in securing a future where lives are not lost to drug addiction. Opioid medications such as morphine, tramadol, oxycodone and methadone are widely prescribed to patients suffering from moderate to severe pain. These medicines are legal and provide needed… View Article

Working Toward Welfare Reform

By Benita M. Dodd To hear progressive groups tell it, states are hurting low-income Americans by requiring “food stamp” recipients to find work or face three-month limits on receiving benefits. Many being forced off the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) are unable to prove that they are disabled and need continued assistance, goes the mantra, and anyone urging these individuals off the program and into jobs has no compassion for these hapless, helpless, poor Americans. The narrative is far from the truth. Requiring able-bodied adults without dependents at home to work provides a helpful, productive path to self-sufficiency.   Time limits are nothing new to SNAP, which “helps low-income individuals and families purchase food so they can obtain a nutritious… View Article
Georgia is moving toward dynamic tolls and a network of express toll lanes in the metro Atlanta area. The I-85 high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes allow vehicles with three or more occupants to travel free; the I-75 express toll lanes have no high-occupancy mandates but on both, the tolls increase with as the level of congestion increases. Road pricing has its supporters and detractors. In its first fully digital edition, ACCESS Magazine carries an article by Brian D. Taylor on the opportunities in using road pricing to manage and reduce traffic congestion.  ACCESS covers research at the University of California Transportation Center and the University of California Center on Economic Competitiveness. The goal is to translate academic research into readable prose View Article
By Kelly McCutchen As Congress returns next week from its Independence Day recess, health care will be front and center. Amid the noise from special interest groups drowning out substantive debate, one proposal that could enormously benefit Georgia has gone unnoticed. The current U.S. Senate proposal, like the House version, introduces Medicaid per-capita block grants in 2020. Per-capita block grants have at one time or another been supported by both Democrats and Republicans. Putting Medicaid spending on a budget delights fiscal conservatives and deficit hawks. As opposed to a traditional block grant, funding would adjust up and down based on the number of enrollees in the program. This protects states from surging rolls during a recession while saving federal and… View Article
By Kelly McCutchen Addressing pre-existing issues and helping low-income individuals afford health insurance are two major issues being debated in health care reform. The challenge is avoiding unintended consequences by making sure the right incentives are in place. Insurance Regulations Before the Affordable Care Act (ACA), states regulated individual and small group insurance. The ACA preempted state regulations and imposed a host of new federal requirements. These regulations primarily impacted the individual insurance market, where only seven percent of Georgians get their health insurance. These new regulations included: Guaranteed Issue: Even though insurance is based on the concept of providing financial protection for “unforeseeable” future events, this regulation forced insurance to cover pre-existing condition. Community Rating: This regulation… View Article

Who are Georgia’s Uninsured?

By Kelly McCutchen The chart below breaks down Georgia’s 1.38 million uninsured residents based on Census Bureau data for 2016. The vertical axis represents income as a percent of the federal poverty level, which is about $12,000 for a single person. The largest group, 469,000 people represented by the bar at the bottom, is 100 percent of the federal poverty level and below. That’s 34 percent of the total uninsured individuals. If you include everyone from 200 percent of the poverty level and below, that represents 59 percent of the total. The colors represent age. The dark blue group on the far left represents those under 29, which is 44 percent of the total. Sixty-one percent are under 40. This… View Article

Georgia Works! Through Jobs Programs for Homeless

By Bill McGahan Georgia Works! helps formerly incarcerated and homeless men become productive citizens. Since our founding in 2013 we have helped 311 men get jobs, remain clean and get an apartment, and virtually all have not returned to prison. We have an additional 170 men in the program today, all working toward full-time employment. When a man comes to our voluntary program we ask him to do three things: Be clean of alcohol and drugs (we drug test everybody weekly) Take no handouts from the government or anyone else Work Over the course of 6-12 months we work with each of our clients on their “obstacles” to employment: the lack of a driver’s license, wage garnishments, criminal history, lack… View Article

The best way to make a lasting impact on public policy is to change public opinion. When you change the beliefs of the people; the politicians and political parties change with them.

Senator Herman E. Talmadge more quotes