Category: Commentaries

State Policy Network Profiles Kyle Wingfield

The State Policy Network interviewed Kyle Wingfield, who became the president and CEO of The Georgia Public Policy Foundation in April 2018. The interview is republished below in its entirety and can be accessed at https://spn.org/leader-spotlight-kyle-wingfield-gppf/. Leader Spotlight: Kyle Wingfield, Georgia Public Policy Foundation Welcome to SPN’s interview series where we connect with leaders from state think tanks to share their stories and learn how their insights might inspire our work. In this interview we chat with Kyle Wingfield, the new president and CEO of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation. Prior to joining the Foundation a few months ago, Kyle spent many years as a columnist for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution covering policy issues in the state of Georgia.… View Article

Another Summer of Polar Bears and Thin Ice

By Harold Brown Hot summer days once again provide the backdrop for highlighting threats to wildlife icons and providing dramatic publicity for climate change activists. Threats to Arctic icons heighten the drama, and the emblem of polar bears “in danger” and attacking humans becomes the clarion call for climate “solutions.” The London Times, in a 2009 book review, called the polar bear “the animal of the new millennium” and “an emblem of despair.” It gained a huge emblematic boost in 2004, when The Wall Street Journal published the findings of two federal investigators who saw four dead bears floating off Alaska’s coast during polar bear and whale aerial surveys. Images of drowning bears further inflamed passions in Al Gore’s film,… View Article
By Jeffrey Dorfman A U.S. Supreme Court ruling last month means even companies without a physical presence in a state can be required to collect sales taxes if states so choose. The ruling, in South Dakota v. Wayfair, levels the playing field between online and brick-and-mortar retailers but comes with a bad side effect: an effective tax increase. Consumers will pay a little more in taxes, and state and local governments that receive that money will spend more. Neither is a good thing. The amount of money at stake is not huge, but it’s not trivial. Online sales represent about 9 percent of total retail. However, many e-commerce transactions are with stores that already have a physical presence in that… View Article
By Joey Costa A new rule from the U.S. Department of Labor will allow more small employers and self-employed individuals to join forces to create Association Health Plans, providing consumers more choice and even some control over their insurance. According to U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta, the rule will help “level the playing field” for small businesses, allowing these associations to use economies of scale to lower the cost of insurance. Under the current Affordable Care Act (ACA) regulations, small employers and individuals purchasing coverage have no bargaining power, leaving them with what the insurance companies offer. Consumers have no voice into what their plan covers, and ACA regulations prohibit pricing advantages to groups of consumers. The new rule… View Article

So What Does a Think Tank Do?

By Rick Larsen Since joining the Sutherland Institute, I am often asked: what exactly is a think tank? A fair question. But more important, perhaps, is this: Are think tanks of benefit to you? Can they assist you in deciding what you think? The Economist explains a think tank best: “Think-tanks aim to fill the gap between academia and policymaking. Academics grind out authoritative studies, but at a snail’s pace. Journalists’ first drafts of history are speedy but thin. A good think-tank helps the policymaking process by publishing reports that are as rigorous as academic research and as accessible as journalism. (Bad ones have a knack of doing just the opposite.)” Think tanks sometimes inform legislators, and sometimes they inform… View Article
By Paul Blair Over the past 18 months, President Trump has taken great strides to fulfill a number of major campaign promises. One major promise was the commitment to help communities harmed by the decline of coal and nuclear energy. To that end, the president recently directed Energy Secretary Rick Perry to prevent retiring coal and nuclear plants from shutting down prematurely. Shortly afterward, a leaked policy document from the National Security Council outlined a number of policy tools that the Department of Energy (DOE) could use to keep the plants afloat. In response, groups across the political spectrum and throughout the energy sector have criticized the administration for “putting its thumb on the scale” for coal and nuclear. Many… View Article

Governor Announces BRT Funding for SR 400

On June 19, 2018, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal announced $100 million in General Obligation bonds for Bus Rapid Transit infrastructure, part of the SR 400 Express Lanes project. The plan includes four BRT interchanges as part of a $1.8 billion project for express toll lanes up the highway. The Georgia Public Policy Foundation has long promoted BRT as a cost-effective alternative to rail. In the Foundation’s Agenda 2002: Guide to the Issues, for example, the Transportation section noted: Traditional train-type transit can be very effective in the downtown ares of certain cities. London, Paris, Tokyo and New York City fit this description. In these densely pupulated cities, rail-based transit provides a high-capacity, convenient transit solution that makes… View Article
By Kyle Wingfield A summertime surprise is roiling the Georgia GOP’s gubernatorial primary. A defeated candidate recently released a recording in which Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle said he supported a school-choice bill he deemed “bad policy,” merely to prevent a big campaign donation to a rival candidate. Now Cagle, who faces Secretary of State Brian Kemp in next month’s runoff, is on the defensive. Whatever one makes of the politics of it all, was this bill truly “bad” policy? Not in the least. House Bill 217 raised the cap on the state’s popular tuition tax-credit scholarship program to $100 million from $58 million. The program allows donors to non-profits awarding scholarships for private-school tuition to claim a dollar-for-dollar credit against… View Article
By Benita M. Dodd Eighty percent of Georgia’s students graduate from high school. What happens to the one in five who don’t? Michael Boggs, now a Georgia Supreme Court Justice, was co-chairman of the Georgia Council on Criminal Justice Reform when he remarked that he counted just 34 high school graduates among the first 6,000 criminal defendants he dealt with in felony criminal court in six rural counties. Twenty-five years ago, concerned about a report that declared high school dropouts the greatest domestic threat to national security, U.S. Sens. Sam Nunn of Georgia and John McCain of Arizona formed the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program. Today, 40 Youth ChalleNGe Academy programs exist in 27 states and territories, turning around the… View Article
By Dave Emanuel As the hue and cry for expanded public transit in metro Atlanta reaches a crescendo, many options are being discussed, but chatter about extending heavy rail predominates. You have to wonder why. The only thing lacking in the proposals to expand heavy rail is a specification to use steam locomotives. Add that, and you have the perfect 19th-century solution to a 21st-century problem. An outmoded form of transportation at best, heavy rail (defined as rail service elevated, subterranean or otherwise separated from street traffic) is expensive to build, operate and maintain, and inefficient in its use of resources. Consider that a single MARTA passenger car weighs 89,000 pounds and accommodates 64 passengers. Consider, further, that the typical… View Article

The Foundation’s Criminal Justice Initiative pushed the problems to the forefront, proposed practical solutions, brought in leaders from other states to share examples, and created this nonpartisan opportunity. (At the signing of the 2012 Criminal Justice Reform bill.)

Governor Nathan Deal more quotes