Category: Commentaries

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution published an op-ed on May 19, 2015, about the Atlanta Streetcar by Foundation Vice President Benita Dodd, “A streetcar named denial.” Read it on the newspaper’s Web site here (subscription required); the full text is below. A streetcar named denial By Benita Dodd After almost five months of official Atlanta Streetcar operation, city officials are exploring route expansion to the Beltline. But storefronts boarded up and covered by newsprint along the route are their own news story on the economic-development promise. It may be that the promises are simply slow to be fulfilled. Nevertheless, looking ahead to Streetcar promises should require looking back on past promises. Deadlines: The streetcar was originally scheduled to begin operating in… View Article

The Ethanol Scramble

By Harold Brown Harold Brown, Senior Fellow, Georgia Public Policy Foundation The Renewable Fuels Standards (RFS) were enacted to solve perceived problems with energy independence, carbon footprints, job creation and the farm economy, among others. They are proof positive that government solutions are always complicated, especially with mandates that address future, undefined problems. The legislation mandated fuel uses that were not yet developed and of questionable benefit. Proposed rules in the Federal Register announced in 2006 that, “Under the Clean Air Act … the Environmental Protection Agency is required to promulgate regulations implementing a renewable fuel program.” The most controversial mandate was for the use of ethanol as a fuel. The main goal was to replace petroleum fuels with renewable… View Article
By Russ Moore While you were distracted by this year’s transportation funding or Opportunity School District debates – or possibly ignoring the Legislature entirely – Gov. Nathan Deal, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, and both parties in both chambers unanimously set a tiny pebble rolling from the top of the mountain known as Public Education. That pebble may become an avalanche leading to an earthquake or, as we policy geeks like to say, a “Paradigm Shift.” Fortunately, the tectonic plates crumbling are Irrelevance, Dropouts and Waste, and the new Himalayas rising will be named Relevance, Graduation and Productive Citizenship. The context: For years, Georgia has ranked near the bottom of states in the quality of public education. Say what you will… View Article

The Concrete Road Less Traveled

The concrete paving industry wants a level playing field in Georgia, where asphalt covers 95 percent of the state’s roads. By Benita M. Dodd BENITA DODD What if you were told that 95 percent of Georgians are using a product that may not always be the best value for money? What if you were told that 95 percent of Georgia’s roads are asphalt, even though that may not always be the best value for money? “The whole point of competition in the market is to create economic efficiency which, by its very nature, means eliminating the less efficient producers,” economist and syndicated columnist Thomas Sowell wrote recently. Georgia’s concrete paving companies aren’t inefficient, but they have been overlooked. Working to… View Article
By Kelly McCutchen  KELLY McCUTCHENPresident, Georgia Public Policy Foundation Many older Georgians recall our economic leadership in what were called the “Four Ps” – peanuts, poultry, pine trees and pecans. These were solid building blocks of the Georgia economy decades ago, and we can be proud that Georgia still leads in these areas. Over the years, Georgia became home to worldwide industry-leading businesses like Delta, UPS, Coca-Cola, Home Depot, Aflac, Gulfstream, AGCO, Shaw Industries, Mohawk Industries, Newell Rubbermaid, Flowers Industries and many others. Moving into the 21st-century economy, Georgia added highly innovative communities of industry to the state. The state has become a leader in health care information technology, financial technology, information security, video game development, interactive marketing, logistics, communications… View Article

Deepwater Horizon: Drawn-Out Tempest in a Teacup

By Harold Brown Harold Brown, Senior Fellow, Georgia Public Policy Foundation The April 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was called catastrophic by many. President Obama declared, “This oil spill is the worst environmental disaster America has ever faced;” the National Resource Defense Council said, two years later, “a people wronged and a region scarred remains.” Five years later, what remains of this “worst environmental disaster” and “scarred” region? There were many projections, estimates and guesses – before and after the well was finally capped – about how many millions of barrels of crude spilled into the Gulf. Photos of pelicans slimed in oil, dolphins smothered, beaches covered in black, and tar-balls strewn like rocks on… View Article

A Reality Check on the School Choice Bogeymen

By Benjamin Scafidi BENJAMIN SCAFIDI Two bills in the Georgia Legislature would allow thousands of Georgia parents the opportunity to choose better educational options for their children. One, (HB 35) would significantly increase the cap of $58 million on contributions to Georgia’s tax credit scholarship program. This program allows taxpayers to donate a portion of their state income tax liability to Student Scholarship Organizations (SSOs) that give scholarships to children to attend private schools. With the popularity of the program (based on two recent opinion polls), it’s no surprise the $58 million cap on donations for 2015 was met on Day 1, January 1. For reference, that $58 million is about three-tenths of 1 percent of what taxpayers spend… View Article
By Benita M. Dodd BENITA DODD Not many Americans are aware that March 4 heralds a turning point in the Affordable Care Act. It’s when the U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments over whether ObamaCare goes forward under the rule of law or under arbitrary interpretation by overreaching politicians and bureaucrats. King v. Burwell is one of four lawsuits, along with Halbig v. Burwell, Pruitt v. Burwell and Indiana v. IRS, to argue that the law specifies subsidies (tax credits) only for enrollees of state-run exchanges. And if that is the case, then extending subsidies through federal exchanges is illegal because it exceeds the authority that Congress gave the Internal Revenue Service. It’s important to note that the parties that… View Article

Legislature Makes Good Progress on The Issues

By Benita M. Dodd BENITA DODD As the legislative session reaches the halfway mark for 2015 (Monday is Day 20), there are signs of promising action from Georgia’s General Assembly. For novices: The Georgia Legislature has two-year sessions of 40 days each year. Crossover day for legislation is Day 30, which means a bill must have passed at least one chamber for a chance to become law. (Convoluted amendments sometimes skirt this requirement.) If it does not pass in the first year, it has another opportunity to continue in the second year; if not, it must be introduced all over again. Bearing in mind that a part-time Legislature has little time and few resources to get acquainted with policies, precedents… View Article

The Economics and Politics of Tax Reform

By Kelly McCutchen  It may surprise many people that liberals and conservatives can agree on many aspects of tax policy. The Special Council for Tax Reform and Fairness for Georgians highlighted these areas of agreement in its final report to the General Assembly in 2011: “Economists generally agree that economic growth and development is best served by a tax system that: Creates as few distortions in economic decision-making as possible Has broad tax bases and low tax rates Has few exemptions and special provisions Promotes equity through transfers, subsidies and tax credits rather than by having tax rates increase with income Taxes consumption rather than income in order to encourage saving and investment Keeps tax rates low since taxes reduce… View Article

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