Category: Commentaries

A little over a year ago, Georgia Public Policy Foundation President Kelly McCutchen’s commentary, “The Dignity of Work,” shared the scope and vision of the nonprofit organization Georgia Works. In September, Ross Coker, the Foundation’s Director of Research and Outreach, visited the organization for an update. By Ross Coker Ross Coker Georgia Works and its founder Bill McGahan exude a driven sense of purpose, a Spartan outlook on why they’re there and what they do. The organization occupies an old city jail facility, nestled among other justice center buildings near downtown Atlanta. McGahan is quick to point out, “There’s nobody here, you’ll notice. That’s because they’re all out working.” This is an apt summary of the mission of… View Article

How Government Can Speed Broadband Access

By Kelly McCutchen KELLY McCUTCHEN Internet access is foundational in today’s economy. Lack of access can grind business to a halt and hobble critical services including health care, transportation and education. As a result, forward-thinking telecommunication policy is a priority in making Georgia a great place to live and economically competitive. Georgia still has work to do to increase access to broadband but the news is good: Statewide, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reports show, 87 percent of Georgians have access to wired broadband connections with speeds of 25 megabits per second (mbps) or higher and 93 percent have access to speeds of 10 mbps or higher. A whopping 99 percent of Georgia’s population has access to wireless broadband of 10… View Article
By Benita M. Dodd The Georgia Public Policy Foundation’s 25th Anniversary Celebration Dinner and Freedom Award takes place on November 11 at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre and is keynoted by John Stossel. Through the years, the Georgia Public Policy Foundation has presented the prestigious Freedom Award to a notable Georgian who has exemplified the principles of private enterprise and personal integrity. Previous recipients include U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Flowers Industries chairman emeritus William Flowers, the former U.S. Attorney General Griffin Bell, Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy; Deen Day Smith, chair of the Cecil B. Day Investment Company; former Governor and United States Senator Zell Miller; former Southern Company president Bill Dahlberg, Medal of Honor recipient General Raymond… View Article
By Benita M. Dodd BENITA DODD Once, Georgia’s most alarming criminal justice statistic was that one resident in 13 was under correctional supervision – imprisoned, jailed, on parole or on probation. Today, thanks to an ongoing series of criminal justice reforms, those numbers are shrinking. The most alarming statistic, however, remains the record number of Georgians on probation. In July 2016, a total of 167,714 offenders were on probation, the state Department of Corrections reports. Last year, nearly 45,000 were sentenced to probation. According to the National Institute of Corrections’ 2014 statistics, Georgia’s rate of 6,161 probationers per 100,000 residents is an astounding 321 percent higher than the national average, at 1,463 per 100,000. The next highest state is… View Article
By Kelly McCutchen KELLY McCUTCHEN It’s been a rough summer for health care. Sixteen of the 23 federally funded, not-for-profit Consumer Operated and Oriented Plans (co-ops) have now failed. Humana reduced its Georgia coverage area and Cigna, UnitedHealthcare and Aetna have completely pulled out of Georgia’s federally managed insurance exchange. Most premium rate increase requests for 2017 are in the double digits – the weighted average increase is 27 percent. We got ours in the mail last week: 16 percent. In some parts of Georgia, the outlook is worse. With little competition, rural Georgia has the dubious distinction of some of the nation’s highest health care prices and worst health care outcomes. Four rural hospitals recently were forced to close,… View Article
By Benita M. Dodd Twenty-one more Georgia counties will reinstate food stamp time limits in 2017 for able-bodied adults without dependents, according to the Division of Family and Children Services. BENITA DODD August marks the 20th anniversary of the transformative Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act. This bipartisan welfare reform legislation signed by President Bill Clinton on August 22, 1996, dramatically transformed the nation’s welfare system, implementing strong welfare-to-work requirements and incentivizing states to transition welfare recipients into work. The law, which created Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and replaced the 61-year-old Aid to Families with Dependent Children, also implemented stricter food stamp regulations. Those included time limits for some recipients and a lifetime ban for drug felons, which… View Article
By John R. Graham Ready for some good news on health reform? Both the presumptive Democratic candidate for President and the Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives agree people should be able to spend more money directly on medical care without insurance companies meddling. Both sides would be shocked to have their respective health reforms described as sharing any common ground. However, identifying this common ground might be necessary if either side wants to fix the worst aspects of Obamacare. If Republican politicians in Congress want to give people any relief from the burden of Obamacare, they need to be prepared for the possibility they will have to deal with Hillary Clinton’s White House next year. Speaker… View Article

Don’t Buy Tax-Free Weekends

By Scott Drenkard and Joseph Henchman Sales tax holidays are periods of time when selected goods are exempted from state (and sometimes local) sales taxes. Such holidays have become an annual event in many states, with exemptions for such targeted products as back-to-school supplies, clothing, computers, hurricane preparedness supplies, products bearing the U.S. government’s Energy Star label, and even guns. In 2016, 17 states will conduct sales tax holidays, down from a peak of 19 states in 2010. Georgia’s back-to-school sales tax holiday takes place July 30-31; the two-day holiday is expected to “save” Georgians up to $74.5 million. The list of tax-exempt items is here.  It includes clothing and footwear costing $100 or less, school supplies costing… View Article
By Benita Dodd BENITA DODD The media hype surrounding the political parties’ national conventions spotlights the enormous discord created by personalities and politics as the presidential election approaches. Getting short shrift amid slogans and the scramble for dollars and votes are the policy proposals that will affect the lives of Americans — and Georgians — long after November 8. Many citizens dismiss the states’ impact on issues at the national level — federal taxes, immigration, the military and education policy, for example. Too many believe the answers depend on who is elected president and to Congress. It’s not always so. It behooves Georgians to pay close attention to innovative ideas closer to home. States are often incubators, testing life-enhancing policies… View Article

The Georgia Public Policy Foundation has forged over the years many positive changes in Georgia, in its nonpartisan but very specific way.

U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson more quotes