Category: Issues

Release the Health-Care Market

By Kyle Wingfield The contract dispute between Piedmont Healthcare and Blue Cross and Blue Shield appears to be over: The two parties this past week confirmed a “handshake deal” at the urging of Gov. Nathan Deal. Georgians who seek care via both companies – not just in Atlanta, but from Columbus to Athens, Blairsville to Elberton – were caught in the middle when the contract expired April 1. They can breathe a bit easier now, but this is no way to run a health-care market. Deal, who was in Congress when Democrats passed Obamacare, surely reminded both companies the only beneficiaries of these fights are those pushing the next government-centric step of single-payer health care. And this wasn’t even the… View Article
By Kyle Wingfield Charter schools are public schools. Charter schools are public schools. Charter schools are public schools. Forgive the repetition, but for a lot of people this simple fact doesn’t seem to be sinking in. The legislative session that ended March 29 saw a number of policy fights, but the most surprising, and disappointing, might have been the one waged over a bill to bring state charter schools — one subset of one subset of public schools — merely up to the statewide average for per-pupil funding. House Bill 787 didn’t clear the Senate until after 8 p.m. on Day 40, more than a month after the House passed it. In the end, it did so with the support… View Article

Don’t Shortchange Public Charter Schools

By Kyle Wingfield Charter schools are public schools. Charter schools are public schools. Charter schools are public schools. Forgive the repetition, but for a lot of people this simple fact doesn’t seem to be sinking in. The legislative session that ended March 29 saw a number of policy fights, but the most surprising, and disappointing, might have been the one waged over a bill to bring state charter schools — one subset of one subset of public schools — merely up to the statewide average for per-pupil funding. House Bill 787 didn’t clear the Senate until after 8 p.m. on Day 40, more than a month after the House passed it. In the end, it did so with the support… View Article

Winners and Losers in Georgia’s 2017-18 Session

By Benita M. Dodd The second half of Georgia’s biennial legislative session that ended March 31 turned out to be surprisingly more intensive than expected. Election-year sessions are typically low-key and feel-good; everybody wants to leave ASAP to begin fund-raising, which is prohibited during the session. In summary, legislation moved on transportation, taxes, education and criminal justice reform. It sputtered on health care.  And, as expected, some feel-good but unnecessary bills got through. Undoubtedly, the biggest winner under the Gold Dome was education. With higher-than-expected state revenue estimates, Governor Nathan Deal ended the state shortfall in Georgia’s complicated QBE funding for public schools, long a sore point with advocates of public school spending. Legislation ensures Georgia’s 33,000 state public charter… View Article
The nation marked the 50th anniversary of the assassination of civil rights icon and Nobel Peace Prize winner Martin Luther King Jr.  on April 4, 1968. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution marked the anniversary with a week of commemorative editions and a series highlighting the changes in policy over the past half-century. In a three-day series beginning April 1, the newspaper asked, “a panel of academics and policy experts to talk about the state of race relations, social mobility and segregation 50 years since the death of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. They represent a cross-section of thought and expertise.” They are: Andra Gillespie, a political scientist and Director of the James Weldon Johnson Institute at Emory University. Her research focuses… View Article
By Daniel Sperling and Steven Polzin This commentary is based on, “Three Revolutions: Steering Automated, Shared, and Electric Vehicles to a Better Future,” by Daniel Sperling, published February 2018 (Island Press) Bad news for transit keeps rolling in. Transit ridership declined in 34 of the 40 largest metropolitan areas over the past three years. New York’s subway woes continue, Washington Metro struggles with funding and maintenance and, even in Los Angeles with its massive rail system buildout supported by $120 billion in tax increases over 40 years, ridership is declining. Explanations for declining ridership include low gasoline prices, economic growth, increasing car ownership, immigrants’ fear of using transit, homeless loitering, and safety and security concerns.  While ridership routinely… View Article
By Benita M. Dodd The average Georgian has never been under the Gold Dome. Many have vague memories of a two-headed calf on display during a State Capitol school field trip. For most Georgians, the closest they get to the General Assembly is their legislator’s local townhall meeting or, if they are really interested, watching legislators in action online. For this reason, the Georgia Public Policy Foundation marks Sunshine Week. In its 18th year and celebrated March 11-17 this year, the event highlights government transparency and access to public information. Transparency is the reason the Foundation has campaigned for years to have elected officials and local government share more data online, accessible to ordinary, working Georgians and the watchdog… View Article

Time is On Our Side in Transforming Georgia Transit

By Baruch Feigenbaum The Georgia General Assembly deserves praise for working to improve transit in Georgia. Two bills, one in the House and one in the Senate, focus on the funding and structure of Georgia’s transit systems. Both bills would create a regional board to oversee transit in 13 metro Atlanta counties, allowing the counties to impose sales taxes for transit projects if approved by voters. The regional board would approve the project lists for any county transit referendum but the taxes could only be spent in the county in which they are raised. Metro Atlanta commuters often live and work in different communities, making an oversight board critical. Many regions, including Denver and Washington D.C., have boards that help… View Article
By Benita M. Dodd Crossover Day, day 28 of Georgia’s legislative session, is the deadline by which legislation must pass out of one chamber into the next in order to have a chance at becoming law. The Georgia House ended its Crossover Day past the midnight hour Thursday. Among the casualties was legislation to establish education savings accounts. This mechanism would have allowed parents to spend their child’s state public education dollars on a menu of pre-approved education services, including private school and tutoring expenses. Not even an amendment to restrict the program to one quarter of 1 percent of the Georgia’s public school enrollment – fewer than 4,500 students – would sway opponents. The Department of Audits and Accounts… View Article

Move Transit Policy in the Right Direction

By Benita M. Dodd When the CEO of the Metro Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority resigned last year, he left MARTA in a good place. The agency was in the black. A new 40-year, $2.5 billion transportation sales tax had been passed. Clayton County bus service had been added to the system. Big plans were in the works with the new money: Expand the struggling Streetcar system. Expand heavy rail into Clayton County. Expand rail in the Emory corridor. Expand heavy rail along Georgia 400 to Alpharetta. Add bus rapid transit. Add buses. With the money part in place, now comes the heavy lifting. Keith Parker has moved on, and before the dream became reality. Legislation currently under consideration is intended… View Article

The Foundation should take a lot of pride in your influence on Georgia governmental policy over the past several years. If you look back on several things that you were crying in the wilderness about several years ago, you will find that Governor Miller adopted them…your influence and your pressure on that process has been a major factor in governmental policy in Georgia. You should be congratulated.

Governor Sonny Perdue more quotes