Category: Commentaries

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

Clearing Up Confusion over Transportation Funding

By Kelly McCutchen  The Georgia House of Representatives has presented legislation to help transportation funding. Its road to legislative success is already potholed with protests – from local government and education officials to those worried about higher taxes and more. As with the debate over the 2012 transportation sales tax referendum, the Georgia Public Foundation agrees the state requires greater funding – for needs, not “nice-to-haves.” We have provided detailed evidence of statewide needs that will cost a minimum of $1 billion a year. From a fiscally conservative viewpoint, it’s always better to prioritize existing spending rather than raise taxes. As the Foundation has pointed out several times, a good starting point is the more than 40 percent of transportation… View Article
By Kelly McCutchen Georgia, like many states, faces a host of health care challenges: access to care, too many people without health insurance, failing rural hospitals and unsustainable health care spending that is crowding out other priorities – for government and for families. The debate over how to address these challenges has Georgia seemingly stuck between two options: Expand a government program (Medicaid) with its own long list of challenges . . . or do nothing. It is a false choice; Georgia has an opportunity to put forth a better solution. It won’t be easy. You start with the high hurdle of political acceptance by conservatives in Georgia and liberals in Washington. But it’s worth the effort. What if Georgia… View Article

Expand Health Care, Not Government

By Nina Owcharenko It’s official: Indiana has given in and adopted ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion. Before jumping into the weeds of Indiana’s Medicaid expansion agreement with the Obama administration, it is important to realize the agreement still fails some basic principles of reform. First, it adds more people on to the Medicaid rolls, not fewer. The Indiana plan puts 350,000 more Hoosiers on to the overstretched welfare program. Reform should be grounded in reducing Medicaid dependence, not increasing it. Second, it requires more government spending, not less. The Indiana plan will increase Medicaid spending by having the federal taxpayers pick up 90 percent of the costs. Again, reforms should aim to reduce government spending, not increase or merely shift it. Third,… View Article

Georgia School Choice Creeps Forward

By Benita M. Dodd When National School Choice Week was launched in 2010, there were just 150 events around the nation, one of them the Georgia Policy Public Policy Foundation’s. This year, the Foundation’s Leadership Breakfast on January 21 was one of 11,500 events marking this annual event. Officially, National School Choice Week takes place January 21-31. The Foundation’s 2014 event barely beat the January 28 ice storm that paralyzed Atlanta and cancelled the annual rally at the State Capitol. There’s no rally this year, either, but not for want of support. “We’ve had great attendance and enthusiasm from thousands of students, parents and legislators across the state in the past few years,” said Randy Hicks, whose Georgia Center for View Article

Transit Should Stay off Tracks and on the Road

By Baruch Feigenbaum This legislative session, the Georgia General Assembly is expected to tackle transportation reform, with many hoping lawmakers address both roadways and transit. It appears they will: At a recent transportation industry gathering, state leaders including Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle detailed the importance of transit. Unfortunately, Metro Atlanta has one of the most deficient transit systems of any major metro area in the country. A recent Brookings Institution study ranked Atlanta 10th worst in the country for combined access to transit and employment. Transit serves only 38 percent of metro Atlanta residents. Only 22 percent of jobs are accessible by transit. Only 3.4 percent of jobs are a 45-minute, one-way commute via transit. Only 21.7 percent of jobs… View Article
By Jim Kelly and Ben Scafidi Georgia has one of the more popular K-12 tuition tax credit programs in America, which is funded by the private contributions of approximately 18,000 individual taxpayers and 200 corporate taxpayers, who receive a state income tax credit for their contributions. These contributions are made to qualified student scholarship organizations (“SSOs”) that provide scholarships to eligible students, most of whom are from low- or middle-income families. Surveys indicate they are overwhelmingly satisfied with their private school choices. In the case of the Georgia GOAL Scholarship Program, the state’s largest SSO, 93 percent of scholarship funds have been given to students who transferred from a public school to a private school, or who entered school for… View Article
By Jim Kelly  In a recent speech at the National Press Club, U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, (D-NY) explained that improving economic opportunities for middle-class Americans is the key issue on which Democrats and Republicans should be focusing leading up to 2016 Presidential election and beyond.  If this is the case, the Georgia Legislature can advance an important piece of the middle class agenda: Increase the annual cap on income tax credits available for contributions to scholarship programs that fund private school options for K-12 students from low- and middle-income families.  Schumer’s speech was a watershed moment. He acknowledged that the Democrat Party has failed to address the ways in which technology and globalization have buffeted the economic fortunes and futures… View Article
Dear Friend, (Don’t you hate those letters that make you wait until the very end to find out what people really want from you? I do! So … As you read this, please know that tomorrow is Giving Tuesday and a good opportunity to support your Georgia Public Policy Foundation.) I dug up a photograph over the weekend I’ll call, “think tanks, the early days.” It was taken in 2003 at my first annual State Policy Network conference of state think tanks. In it, I’m flanked by two champions of liberty, Jo Kwong of the international Atlas Foundation and Joe Lehman of Michigan’s Mackinac Center. Jo, now at the Philanthropy Roundtable, and Joe, now president at Mackinac, have become good… View Article

U.S. Senate Votes to Oppose Freedom

By Bartlett D. Cleland  Our civil liberties suffered another loss this week when the Senate chose to duck surveillance reform by killing the USA Freedom Act. The legislation would have limited the data dragnet that is currently being used to harvest Americans’ personal information via spying laws. Specifically, the legislation would have ended “bulk collection under Section 215 of the Patriot Act” and required the federal “government to more aggressively filter and discard information about Americans accidentally collected through PRISM and related programs.” In addition, all Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) decisions for the last decade that included a significant interpretation of the law would have had to be disclosed publicly, and “Internet and telecom companies would be allowed to… View Article

As an employer, and a parent and a graduate of Georgia public schools, I am pleased that the Foundation has undertaken this project. (The report card) provides an excellent tool for parents and educators to objectively evaluate our public high schools. It will further serve a useful purpose as a benchmark for the future to measure our schools’ progress.

Dan Amos, CEO, AFLAC more quotes