Category: Commentaries

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
By Benita M. Dodd In his State of the State address to the Georgia Legislature this week, Governor Nathan Deal succinctly justified his resistance to expanding Medicaid to low-income, able-bodied Georgians. Deal recited the costs already imposed by the Affordable Care Act: Reporting requirements alone add $2.1 million in state spending, and even without Medicaid expansion, enrollment increased due to heightened eligibility awareness. This “woodwork effect” increased program costs 15.7 percent from fiscal years 2013-17, to $3.1 billion. Unsurprisingly, critics denounced the governor for “leaving” federal money on the table and poor Georgians uninsured while missing an economic opportunity. But “no” to expanding this entitlement program does not equate to “no” to health care or to economic opportunity in Georgia.… View Article

A 2016 Legislative Wish List for Georgia

By Kelly McCutchen Conventional wisdom says a budget surplus plus an election year equals a legislative session that adjourns quickly to maximize time for campaigning and fundraising, but not before spreading government funds as widely as possible to maximize voter “happiness.” But Georgia, like many states, faces real challenges so one can hope for leadership on real reforms instead of politics as usual. The current political debate over income inequality distracts attention from a more important issue: economic opportunity. With Georgia’s high level of poverty and a middle class feeling like they are economically stuck in the mud, it’s more important than ever that our policies focus on empowering individuals with every opportunity to climb the economic ladder and tearing… View Article
By Ben Scafidi Humans seem to always want more – more time with our families, more health care, more funding for roads, more tax cuts. More funding for our public K-12 schools. And more student achievement. When it comes to getting “more” of something, however, we either (a) have to accept less of something else or (b) increase the productivity of what we’re doing. Governor Nathan Deal and the Georgia General Assembly have been blessed with extra tax revenues over the past two legislative sessions, thanks to their smart economic stewardship and the ingenuity of everyday Georgians. And, in the spirit of “more,” they chose to devote over a billion dollars of those extra revenues to additional funding for our… View Article

Solving the Failure of Education Desegregation

By Benita M. Dodd BENITA DODD Education desegregation started out with such lofty promise in America. So why have decades of massive government efforts to mandate integration in schools and encourage racial diversity produced such dismal results? In his latest study, Dr. Ben Scafidi, Senior Fellow at the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice and the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, set out to examine why schools continue to be segregated and how to overcome this. He found that neighborhoods and schools both moved toward racial integration in the 1960s and ‘70s, but in the 1980s segregation began returning to public schools even as neighborhood integration continued. Public school integration reversed at the same time neighborhood segregation by income increased, according to… View Article
*Join Lisa Snell and Aaron Smith December 8 for a discussion on student-based funding in Georgia. Register here TODAY! By Aaron Smith and Lisa Snell For more than three decades, Georgia’s system of school finance has handcuffed district leaders by dictating how state funds are used. More freedom might finally be in sight for frustrated educators, thanks to the promising recommendations from Gov. Nathan Deal’s Education Reform Commission. The Commission has been tasked with overhauling the state’s Quality Basic Education (QBE) formula, created in 1985, which allocates over 90 percent of the state’s $8 billion in K-12 funding. If the goal of QBE’s architects was to achieve minimal transparency and flexibility, then it has been a riveting success. QBE provides… View Article

A Success Story in Helping Lower-income Workers

By Kelly McCutchen With the media focused on partisan gridlock in Washington, it’s easy to overlook major success stories in bringing bipartisan public policy and innovative business partnerships together to help American workers. Part-time and other lower-income workers often drop out of the banking system because they find it is not worth it to pay the higher banking fees that come with carrying low balances in their accounts. But without a checking account, they can’t receive their paycheck by direct deposit. As a consequence, they face the expense of check-cashing services in order to access their paychecks, the expense of buying money orders to pay bills and the expense of payday loans when bills come due before payday. In what… View Article
SENATE FINANCE SUB-COMMITTEE ON TAX REFORM MONDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2015 Testimony of Kelly McCutchen, President of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation My remarks will focus on tax policy principles, analysis of two recent state tax reforms, myths associated with tax reform and suggestions for a way forward for Georgia. Tax revenue is necessary to fund core government functions. The goal of tax policy is to raise those necessary funds while minimizing the impact on economic decision making. Surprisingly, there is broad agreement from economists across the political spectrum on what constitutes good tax policy. This can be very simply stated as: 1) broadening the tax base and lowering rates, 2) not applying the sales tax to business inputs and 3)… View Article

Innovation is the True Health Care Solution

By Josh Daniels Political support for Medicaid expansion in Georgia is on life support and the prognosis may be terminal. This doesn’t mean, however, there isn’t a pathway forward for those looking for health care solutions. It’s the same pathway that has solved many of our problems: innovation. Each Medicaid expansion proposal has been a reaction to the failure of federal policy in attempting to address the “coverage gap.” But the gap is only a symptom of the underlying disease. The Affordable Care Act did little to actually make care affordable. In fact, it aggravated the very conditions that have driven health care costs up: regulation and government intervention. ObamaCare put more patients into the system with no corresponding increase… View Article

Halloween, ‘Sugar’ and The Right To Try

Are you ready for Halloween? I’m looking forward to good weather and good times with the hordes of trick-or-treaters this evening! Whenever Halloween and the predictions of “sugar highs” come around, I’m reminded of my mother. She had what she called “sugar.” When she died in 2012, having spent more than a painful decade as a bedridden amputee, she had battled Type 2 Diabetes for more than 40 years. The memories are mostly happy thoughts, though, because we were fortunate to have my mother in our lives nearly 75 years. I never did get to meet my grandmother: My mother was just 15 when her 45-year-old mother succumbed to the same insidious disease. It’s one of the reasons I monitor… View Article

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U.S. Attorney General Griffin Bell more quotes