Category: Commentaries

Testimony on Education Savings Accounts

Senate Education and Youth Committee Wednesday, February 22, 2017 Testimony of Kelly McCutchen, President, Georgia Public Policy Foundation I would like to focus my testimony on the impact of Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) on public schools. Regarding student achievement, research shows that school choice improves outcomes modestly for public school students. As of last May, 33 empirical studies had been published that examined the effect of school choice on students’ academic outcomes in public schools. Of those, 31 found choice improved public schools. One found no visible effect. One found a negative effect.[1] Regarding fiscal impact, being fiscally conservative, we certainly appreciate any concern about the cost to taxpayers of any new state programs. Fortunately, any negative… View Article
House Ways and Means Tax Reform Subcommittee Wednesday, February 22, 2017 Testimony of Kelly McCutchen, President, Georgia Public Policy Foundation  I would like to focus on four positive aspects of HB 329. Pro-Growth: An almost universally held principle of good tax reform is the goal of broadening the tax base and lowering tax rates. This bill does both. Simplification: This bill simplifies the Georgia Tax Code by collapsing six tax brackets into one flat rate. Economic Competitiveness: Lowering Georgia’s top marginal tax rate to 5.4 percent moves Georgia’s rate below that of seven states, including our neighbor North Carolina, which recently reduced its top tax rate of 7.75 percent to a flat rate of 499 percent.… View Article

Bottleneckers: A Chokehold on Good Government

By Benita M. Dodd Georgia legislators get lots of input on lawmaking and good policy. The Georgia Public Policy Foundation provides legislators with a “Guide to the Issues.” After every election year, the Biennial Institute at UGA’s Carl Vinson Institute offers “an orientation to the legislative process for new lawmakers and timely policy sessions for all attendees.” So how do laws happen? According to the Senate, “A need for a new law or change in existing law is recognized by legislator, or suggested by the Governor, public agency, a constituent, or others.” A General Assembly website summarizes: “Legislator sees need for a new law or changes in existing law and decides to introduce a bill.” Despite the… View Article
By Jenn Hatfield When President Donald Trump was sworn into office on January 20, the clock started ticking on the 282 promises he made on the campaign trail. While his every move has garnered significant media attention, Trump has also pledged to make what happens in Washington matter less. In his inaugural address, he declared, “We are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the American People.” So it’s only fitting to give a bit more attention to what governors are saying – especially on K-12 education, where Trump and Secretary of Education have both promised to respect state autonomy and make good on the states-rights spirit of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). As a… View Article
Georgia Public Policy Foundation News Release For Immediate Release February 7, 2017 Contact: Benita Dodd, Georgia Public Policy Foundation benitadodd@georgiapolicy.org | (404) 256-4050  Foundation Welcomes DeVos as Secretary of Education Atlanta – Kelly McCutchen, president of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, had the following response to today’s Senate confirmation of Betsy DeVos as U.S. Secretary of Education.  “The vote for Betsy DeVos is a vote for America’s children. “Mrs. DeVos has exercised her constitutional right to put her money where her mouth is – into school choice – and we’re excited to see her promote her preference to give families options for their children’s education. “Competition is a rising tide that lifts all boats; there’s especially no reason for an… View Article
Matthew Standsberry of the American Legislative Exchange Council wrote about pre-arrest diversion programs in Fulton County, Ga., in a February 3, 2017, article on ALEC’s website. The article is reprinted below; access it at ALEC at www.alec.org/article/georgia-examines-a-pre-arrest-diversion-program/. Georgia Examines a Pre-Arrest Diversion Program By Matthew Standsberry Politicians and citizens from both sides of the aisle have been pushing for criminal justice reform for years. In 2008, a study was released by the Pew Center on the States which identified that more than 2.3 million adults are currently incarcerated in the U.S. in some capacity — amounting to nearly 1 in 100 adults in the United States. In Georgia, this problem is even more severe as one in 13 adults View Article
Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Kyle Wingfield’s column in the Sunday edition on February 5, 2017 focuses on the Foundation’s new study by Ben Scafidi, “Balancing the Books in Public Education,” which points out that the Georgia Department of Education website underreports public education spending. Wingfield’s column can be accessed online here (subscription required); it is reprinted below in its entirety. Why school spending has soared, but teachers’ salaries haven’t By Kyle Wingfield The fault line dividing public opinion about school choice and other education reforms is spending. Proponents say we spend plenty today, with mediocre results. Opponents say the results would improve if we spent more. The latter argument largely boils down to paying teachers better, hiring more of… View Article
By Benita M. Dodd On Saturday, January 28, the reversible express toll lanes on I-75 south of Atlanta opened. The lanes’ direction was northbound, as signs on I-75 South showed. In a milestone event that occurred quietly on Saturday, January 28 Georgia entered the ranks of the few, the proud, the innovative states as a 12-mile stretch of reversible toll lanes opened on I-75 south of Atlanta. Just four other states boast reversible toll lanes. A little history: Georgia has known tolls since the 19th century (at least). Few metro commuters realize the toll origins of the roads they travel: Johnson Ferry and Paces Ferry (crossing the Chattahoochee) and Bell’s Ferry (crossing the Little River in Cherokee County), to name… View Article

Expand Retirement Options, Shrink Teacher Doldrums

This commentary appeared in the February 1, 2017, edition of The Marietta Daily Journal. By Benita M. Dodd PAGE, the Professional Association of Georgia Educators, has surveyed its members and the findings, reported in its January/February 2017 newsletter (PAGE One), are depressing. The survey found that nearly half of teachers (45 percent) say they are unlikely to remain in education for the next 10 years. Sadly, a majority – 53 percent – also said they would not recommend a career in education. The report notes, “With the current teacher shortage and continuing teacher pipeline issues, these statistics are of great concern to PAGE.” The survey also found that 59 percent of the respondents oppose converting the Teacher Retirement System from… View Article

Balancing the Books in Georgia Public Education

By Benjamin Scafidi BENJAMIN SCAFIDI Parents, educators, policy-makers and all other taxpayers have a right to know just how much taxpayer funding is spent on Georgia public schools, how this funding has changed over time, and how their public school dollars are being spent. Unfortunately, official state websites have historically contained misleading information that hinders Georgians’ understanding of the true resource cost of our public education system and the uses of those taxpayer funds. Specifically, official state of Georgia websites give the impression that taxpayers spend billions of dollars less on K-12 public education than is actually spent. For example, according to the official spending figures on the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) website, Georgia public schools spent a total… View Article

Thank you for the great work that the Public Policy Foundation is doing across our state setting a wonderful example. I first ran for the Senate in 1994, and the Foundation was that resource I called upon to be a great help to me as we were articulating positions and formulating public policy initiatives. We appreciate very much your leadership and all that you stand for.

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle more quotes