Category: Spending

On Muni Broadband, Buyer Beware

By Kelly McCutchen A year after the Savannah City Council approved a $62,500 contract asking consultants to explore potential demand for a municipal broadband network, the firm finally has released its findings and recommendations.  Magellan Advisors outlines three options: building and operating a taxpayer-financed network providing service directly to consumers at a cost of $116 million; building and operating a taxpayer-financed network providing service only to government offices at a cost of about $13 million; or joint ownership of a fiber-to-premises system with a private entity at a total cost of nearly $13 million, with taxpayers responsible for $6.6 million. Thankfully for the strained city budget, Magellan says the first option wouldn’t work here. Perhaps that’s because the system would… View Article

Expand Access to Care, Not Medicaid

By Kelly McCutchen KELLY McCUTCHEN Those addressing Georgia’s uninsured and failing hospitals seem stuck between two options: expanding a government program (Medicaid) with its own long list of challenges, or doing nothing. It’s a false choice. Expanding Medicaid is undoubtedly the worst option for providing more Georgians access. For providers – even with more money from the federal government – Medicaid still pays less than their cost. It’s a bad deal for taxpayers: Expansion is estimated to cost more than $7,000 for able-bodied adults; the current Medicaid program spends $3,022. If Georgia’s more than 200,000 low-income adults who already have private insurance opt for the “free” program, the cost will be even higher. It’s also a bad deal for recipients.… View Article

AJC Quotes Kelly McCutchen on Georgia Spending

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution of Thursday, June 30, 2016 quoted Georgia Public Policy Foundation President Kelly McCutchen extensively in a front-page article on Georgia’s state budget and spending. The article is reprinted in full below; access it online at the newspaper’s website here. Georgia’s record budget still lags population growth, inflation By James Salzer and Isaac Sabetai A record state budget of $23.7 billion goes into effect Friday, bringing pay raises for thousands of teachers and an expansive road and bridge construction program. On the surface, it is seen as yet another sign that a state that once struggled to keep schools open 180 days a year has left the Great Recession in its rear-view mirror. But an Atlanta Journal-Constitution… View Article

The Dangers of Municipal Broadband

The Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity published this roundup on February 17, 2016, of municipal broadband project initiatives around the nation. Find the article online at  http://franklincenterhq.org/12493/watchdog-government-broadband. The Internet of tax dollars: Watchdog covers the dangers of municipal broadband By As the economy continues its full-throttle transition into the digital age, government-run Internet projects have become all the rage among lawmakers in statehouses, counties, and cities. Bolstered [1] by a Federal Communications Commission ruling last year that struck down laws preventing local governments from building out and competing with other broadband networks, these “municipal broadband” projects lead governments to sink tens – if not hundreds – of millions of dollars into Internet infrastructure. Much of these… View Article
By Robert Krol Each year, state and local governments decide on which transportation infrastructure projects to build. Often, priority goes to projects directed at reducing highway congestion or air pollution. The economic backbone of the decision process is supposed to be an objective cost-benefit analysis. However, calculating the costs and benefits of any major project is technically difficult. Cost estimates require a determination of labor and material quantities and prices. Benefit estimates require forecasting economic growth, demographic trends, and travel patterns in the region. Clouding the analysis is the fact that this decision process takes place in a political environment. Politicians love the publicity they get at the opening of a high-occupancy vehicle lane or the expansion of a mass… View Article

The 2016 State of the State Address

Gov. Nathan Deal delivered the annual State of the State address and introduced his 2017 budget recommendations last week. Here are some of the recommendations and comments: More support for high-demand skills training: “…over the past three years, we have identified 11 areas where a student will receive a 100 percent tuition HOPE Grant to obtain that training. These Strategic Industries Workforce Development Grants cover 140 programs, and I am recommending that we add industrial maintenance this year to that important list.” Additional funding for Dual Enrollment: “Our Move On When Ready legislation from last year, coupled with additional funding for Dual Enrollment, has greatly accelerated the pace of many students’ educational journeys. This allows high school students… View Article

Student Achievement and Spending

It’s difficult to compare state student achievement data because demographics vary greatly. In Georgia, for example, 60 percent of students are deemed “low income,” while only 40 percent of Pennsylvania’s students are low income. Many people argue that comparing these states without adjusting for these demographics is very unfair. So how would Georgia compare if you adjusted for demographics? The Urban Institute has the answer in their recently published study. The study “adjusts the relative performance of each state for the following rich set of student level factors: gender, race and ethnicity, eligibility for free or reduced-price lunch, limited English proficient, special education, age, whether the student was given an accommodation on the NAEP exam (e.g., extra time or… View Article
Letter to the editor, The Citizen, sent December 9, 2015 in response to a letter from Peachtree City Public Information Officer Betsy Tyler alleging the city’s plans were “misrepresented” by the Foundation President Kelly McCutchen and Watchdog.org reporter Chris Butler: Peachtree City’s Public Information Officer and City Clerk, Betsy Tyler, accuses the Georgia Public Policy Foundation of being “alarmist” in questioning Peachtree City’s plan to build out a government-owned broadband internet network (“PTC’s cable plans misrepresented in story,” December 8, 2015). We admit to being alarmed that a supposedly fiscally conservative city in Metro Atlanta would engage in such a risky venture, but we are far from alarmist. The Foundation has a nearly 25 year record of defending… View Article
Georgia Public Policy Foundation President Kelly McCutchen was interviewed for a November 2, 2015, Heartland Institute article by Tony Corvo on Peachtree City’s planned taxpayer-funded broadband.  The full article is below; access it online here. Georgia Lawmakers Boot Up Taxpayer-Funded Internet By Tony Corvo The Peachtree City, Georgia City Council recently approved spending $3.2 million in taxpayer dollars to build and fund a municipal broadband Internet system. The new taxpayer-funded Internet service provider (ISP) will be funded through a mixture of subscriber fees and excise fees paid by cable television subscribers. Broadband ‘Boondoggles’ “I can’t speak for Peachtree City residents, but I think taxpayers are fed up with funding government boondoggles, especially when government is attempting to compete with… View Article

Municipal Broadband Puts Taxpayers’ Wallets at Risk

By Kelly McCutchen For centuries, too-good-to-be-true deals have snagged investors with promises that they can ignore past failures because “this time it will be different.” Peachtree City’s leaders appear to have been told a similar story. The Peachtree City city council approved a resolution last month to build out a government-owned broadband Internet network for municipal buildings and local businesses. The project will require a 10-year, $3.2 million bond issue to pay for the cost of laying fiber optic lines along the right-of-way of the city’s many golf cart paths. For those who don’t know their Georgia geography, Peachtree City is not a small, rural hamlet in the-middle-of-nowhere Georgia with limited broadband Internet access. It is located just 30 miles… View Article

As an employer, and a parent and a graduate of Georgia public schools, I am pleased that the Foundation has undertaken this project. (The report card) provides an excellent tool for parents and educators to objectively evaluate our public high schools. It will further serve a useful purpose as a benchmark for the future to measure our schools’ progress.

Dan Amos, CEO, AFLAC more quotes