Category: Commentaries

Transit Funding a Step in the Right Direction

By Baruch Feigenbaum In 2015, the Georgia General Assembly passed the Transportation Funding Act, dedicating substantial existing resources from the general fund to state roadway funding. Unfortunately, the 2015 plan funded neither transit nor local roadways. In 2016, legislation introduced by Sen. Brandon Beach proposed increasing the sales tax in the city of Atlanta, DeKalb County and Fulton County by 0.50 cents to fund three rail expansions: Lindbergh Station to Emory, alongside S.R. 400 from North Springs Station to Windward Parkway and Indian Creek Station to Lithonia. While the Metropolitan Atlanta Regional Transportation Authority (MARTA) favored the rail expansion, some communities were not on board. Much of the opposition centered on North Fulton, where area leaders believed that improving… View Article

An Assault on Nonprofit Giving

This commentary by Jon Riches appeared March 18 in Philanthropy Daily and is republished below. Access the commentary online at An Assault on Nonprofit Giving By Jon Riches Do you donate to the National Rifle Association, the Sierra Club, or your local art museum? If so, you may soon be required to report your name, address, and contribution amounts to the government. Couched as “transparency” measures, a wave of regulatory action, legislative proposals, and ballot measures are aimed at eliminating, or significantly curtailing, private charitable giving. The first line of attack on donor privacy has come from partisan regulators. Attorneys General in both New York and California have been notifying nonprofit organizations that they must disclose private tax… View Article

Tax Reform A Needed Boost for Georgia’s Economy

The Senate voted along party lines March 16 on tax reform for Georgia. By Kelly McCutchen The Georgia Senate deserves a hearty congratulations for approving a pro-growth tax reform Wednesday (March 16) that would reduce Georgia’s marginal personal income tax rate for the first time since it was implemented in 1937. To be the best place to do business in the nation, Georgia needs a more competitive tax code. In the Southeast, only South Carolina’s top income tax rate of 7 percent is higher; nationally, 28 states have lower marginal rates. The proposed income tax changes can be explained in less than a minute. Georgia’s six tax brackets would be collapsed into one tax bracket of 5.4 percent (a reduction… View Article
By Benita M. Dodd March 13-19 is Sunshine Week, the annual nationwide celebration of government transparency and access to public information. It’s come just in time to reinforce the need for increased transparency under the Gold Dome to empower more Georgia citizens.   Georgia House and Senate floor sessions have been broadcast live over the Internet since 2003. This is hugely beneficial because average Georgians are able to follow legislation online, instead of having to trek over in person to the State Capitol. Granted, it does not provide as much access as the special interests, activists and lobbyists who are present (and often behind the scenes, too) at the Capitol to follow and influence debate, discussion and voting. Still, it… View Article
The Georgia Senate voted Wednesday to approve a pro-growth tax reform that would reduce Georgia’s marginal personal income tax rate, the first change since the rate was implemented in 1937. Final passage depends on the House agreeing to the Senate’s changes to the bill and the Governor’s signature. The arguments from opponents of a tax cut range from weak to unfounded; the Georgia Public Policy Foundation rebuts them below. Claim: Tax Reform Needs More Comprehensive Study Tax reform has been studied comprehensively and debated extensively for at least six years. Large corporations have benefited from some reforms but families and small businesses have seen little change.  Just in the past 24 months, the legislature has held at least six hearings… View Article

Criminal Justice Reform Unshackles Georgians

By Benita M. Dodd Appeals Court Judge Michael P. Boggs, co-chair of the Georgia Council on Criminal Justice Reform since 2012, makes a passionate case for the strides that have taken Georgia to the forefront in criminal justice reform. The Waycross jurist recalls presiding over a drug court in six rural counties in South Georgia. “I asked defendants three questions,” Boggs told the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s annual Legislative Luncheon recently. “When did you first drop out of school? Ninth grade. “What drug did you first start using? Marijuana. “When did you first start using it? Age 13. Boggs asked the luncheon attendees to guess: “How many of the first 6,000 criminal defendants I dealt with in felony criminal court… View Article

Georgia Is Moving Forward on Welfare Reform

By Logan Pike and John Nothdurft Georgia’s dreadful welfare system is perhaps one of the worst in the nation, but the Legislature has an opportunity to reform the failing program and provide significant, lasting changes that will improve the lives of thousands of Georgia’s citizens. The Georgia Senate passed a welfare reform bill that will improve opportunities for upward mobility and self-sufficiency and protect those people who truly need assistance. The bill has been offered in large part as a result of four important hearings held in 2015 by the Georgia House Study Committee on Welfare Fraud, chaired by state Rep. David Clark (R-Buford). Those hearings were created to study the “conditions, needs, issues, and problems regarding Georgia welfare programs.”… View Article

Which Way Employment?

By Harold Brown                                             Harold Brown A person who wants a job and doesn’t have one knows exactly what unemployment means. Sadly, most of us who depend on the media to tell us about the nation’s unemployment don’t quite know. The “unemployment rate” supposedly tells us the proportion of people unemployed, and is often presented as the whole story.  But there is much more to it: The official “unemployment rate” is the percentage of people in the labor force who don’t have a job and are seeking one. What about changes in the size of the labor force? The labor force is not a fixed group. The focus may on the unemployment rate, but changing demographics affect the labor force as… View Article

The Future Path of The Supreme Court

By Hans von Spakovsky Hans von Spakovsky The sudden, unexpected death of Justice Antonin Gregory Scalia is a tragedy not just for his extensive family and many friends, but for the Supreme Court, the nation and all those who believe in the rule of law and the supremacy of the Constitution. This was his 30th year on the Court, and in those 30 years, he helped change the course of the law with his profound legal analysis and his single-minded determination to bring the Court back to applying the Constitution as it was written and understood by the men who wrote it. Scalia had a visceral contempt for activist judges who legislate from the bench, rewriting statutes and the 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 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

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