Category: Commentaries

New Year, Same Old Streetcar Named Disaster

By Benita M. Dodd Today the city of Atlanta begins Year 3 of operating its much-ballyhooed Atlanta Streetcar System, and so far, all that can be discerned is a lot of bally hooey. This month, the Atlanta City Council approved the final payment to URS for the design-build of the 2.7-mile Atlanta Streetcar project, making the total payment $61,630,655. That was, according to Public Works Commissioner Richard Mendoza, “$6 million less than URS originally submitted.” Not exactly. The 2014 URS contract authorized by MARTA (the transit authority designated to receive the $47.6 million federal grant for the Streetcar), was $59 million; the original URS contract, based on the preliminary design, was $52.2 million. Asked about the project’s full cost,… View Article

The Top Ten in 2016!

What were the commentaries that most intrigued the Georgia Public Policy Foundation’s readers in 2016? We looked back and tracked the top 10 trending items through the year. Here’s the countdown: 10. Applying the Lessons of Criminal Justice Reform to Health Care. Read it here. 9. Welfare-to-Work Helps Georgians Up and Out of Dependency. Read it here.  8. Beyond Medicaid: Health Care for Low-Income Georgians. Read it here. 7. Rome’s Free Clinic: Community Taking Charge. Read it here.  6. Transit’s Future is in Innovation, Not in Trains. Read it here. 5. Few Bright Spots Under The Gold Dome. Read it here. 4. Criminal Justice Reform Unshackles Georgians. Read it here. 3. Poverty Solutions… View Article

The Glacial Update of Georgia’s Water Plan

By Benita M. Dodd Imagine a group project today where everyone must put their electronic devices in a basket and use a blackboard, notepad, pencil, slide rule or manual typewriter. Consider how many people still drive a 1955 or ‘65 Chevrolet on a daily basis. Then ask yourself if it makes sense to operate a state based on a 50-year-old water use plan. All of the above are ineffective, inefficient, illogical and outdated; much has changed over the decades.  Yet Alabama and Florida sought for decades to restrict Georgia to half-century-old water guidance, even as population, water use and demand have changed. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has finally moved beyond the tristate blame game and accepted the need… View Article
By Ronald E. Bachman Selling health insurance policies across state lines has been a key item in Republicans’ health care alternative reform proposals. But only about 5 percent of the policies sold in the United States are to individuals.  There are many reasons for the paucity of sales, including the lack of employer-based tax advantages and inadequate financial value for agents selling policies one at a time. Multiple versions of “cross-state selling” exist. One allows individuals to purchase insurance from any state, in theory increasing choice and circumventing some burdensome and expensive home state coverage mandates. Critics argue that insurance products will be promoted from states with worse coverage and the fewest consumer protections. Another criticism is that insurers will… View Article
By Ross Coker With the tumultuous results of the general election, one issue that should not be pushed to the back is the reform of civil asset forfeiture laws to curb abuse and perverse incentives that harm innocent victims and the reputation of law enforcement. Some states, including Georgia, enacted reforms prior to the general election. Others made important changes via ballot measures in November. Criminal justice reform advocates are hopeful positive changes will continue under a new Trump administration. Below is a brief rundown of some notable state approaches to this issue, and their most recent status or change. California: A recent reform bill requires a conviction before forfeiture of assets can take place in cases involving assets… View Article

Teachers Unions, Faulty Economics and School Choice

By Jeffrey Dorfman School choice is one of the most controversial and hard-fought public policy debates of the past few decades. Most liberals, who get significant funding from public school teachers unions, line up against any form of school choice, while many conservatives favor allowing some form of market to introduce competition amongst schools for education tax dollars. The argument against school choice always seems to focus on how it would “defund” public schools by “draining” monies away. This argument, however, is based on faulty economics and should be discarded or strongly rebutted by school choice proponents. School choice comes in a variety of flavors. Some public school districts let residents choose their preferred school within the district; this is… View Article

Lessons and Opportunities from The Election

By Kelly McCutchen It’s not always as good, or bad, as it seems. The same can be said of this year’s national election. Conservatives and liberals should temper their enthusiasm and despair; this election was not an endorsement of any ideology. It was a revolt, as Peggy Noonan so aptly puts it, by the “unprotected” against the “protected.” At its core were middle-class Americans, who had done everything they were told to do, but were frustrated by rising taxes and higher education and health care costs as their wages remained stagnant. They had lost hope in the future, for their children and in the American Dream. They felt disgust at the ruling political class and their crony friends and corrupt… View Article

Health Care: Another Foundation Frontier

By Benita M. Dodd This month, as the Georgia Public Policy Foundation celebrates 25 years of policy over politics, many Georgians are getting ready for a 25 percent increase in health insurance premiums. It’s a clear case of politics trumping policy; a congressional sledgehammer was taken to a problem needing precision surgery. The Foundation has worked for a quarter-century to bring incremental improvements that facilitate individual opportunity instead of socially engineering Georgians’ options. It takes time to turn the tanker of state government, but the timeline demonstrates how ideas planted by this state-focused free-market think tank have taken root and flourished. Some examples: Education choice: When the Foundation was established in 1991, public school choice was nonexistent; children from… View Article
A legal memorandum by John-Michael Seibler of the Heritage Foundation proposes, “Seven State Criminal Justice Reform Measures for Congress to Consider.” It points out: “A number of states—those laboratories of democracy—are leading the current push for genuine reform that does not involve issuing get-out-of-jail-free cards to those deserving of punishment. The federal government would be well-served by looking to the modest, measured pieces of legislation states have crafted to battle overcriminalization and enact effective criminal justice reform.”  Read the memorandum in its entirety on the Heritage Foundation website here. The measures are  Enact Mens Rea Reform to Decriminalize Morally Innocent Mistakes or Accidents Repeal Outdated, Unnecessary Criminal Laws Codify the Rule of Lenity (guides judicial interpretation of… View Article

Tough Choices on Tax Reform for Georgia

By Kelly McCutchen Tennessee just became the second state in U.S. history to eliminate its personal income tax. Florida and Texas do not have a personal income tax. With Georgia’s unsuccessful attempts over the last decade to shift to a more pro-growth tax structure by lowering its personal income tax, it’s worth asking the question: How do these states manage it? Do they spend less? Do other sources of revenue make up for lower income taxes? Or is it something unique that Georgia can’t duplicate? Georgia’s personal income tax brings in more than $8 billion a year, or $878 per capita. The challenge is to identify $878 per capita of spending cuts or other revenues to make up the difference.… View Article

I thank you for what you do. For 15 years you’ve been researching and writing on issues that matter. You take on tough questions, you apply innovative thinking, you push for action, and you do it all without regard to politics.

President George W. Bush more quotes