Category: The Forum

Originally published April 18, 2011 Georgia lawmakers introduced 945 bills this year.  One that passed will fast track review of the state’s $1 billion per year corrections system costs with a concentration on how to reduce existing state prison populations and slow their growth without impacting public safety. So many Georgia adults are under state corrections system jurisdiction that their number would fill the Georgia Dome three times.  Or if you are a University of Georgia Bulldogs fan …that would be two sold out Sanford Stadiums and 40,000 more folks tailgating. The state’s new criminal justice reform commission will no doubt find an important resource in a new study released by the Pew Center on the States. “State of Recidivism:… View Article
Originally published February 17, 2011 Georgia will consider alternatives to incarceration of adult non-violent offenders in a sweeping criminal justice review announced Wednesday afternoon by Governor Nathan Deal.  Reforms could include expanded drug, DUI and mental health courts, changes to sentencing laws, and alternatives to technical parole violations. The governor announced the review at a capitol news conference.  “Make no mistake.  While this effort should ultimately uncover strategies that will save taxpayer dollars, first and foremost we are attacking the human cost of a society with too much crime, too many people behind bars, too many children growing up without a much needed parent and too many wasted lives.” Deal stood with an historic coalition of executive, judicial and legislative… View Article
Originally published December 12, 2010 Georgia has a significant corrections system challenge and there’s no getting around that fact.  Nationally one in every 100 adults is behind state prison or local jail bars but the number is one in every 70 Georgia adults.  Nationally one in every 31 adults is in prison or jail, on probation or on parole but the comparable number is one in every 13 Georgia adults, worst in the nation. “It’s really something else that this state is number one, if you will, when it comes to the extent of correctional control of its citizens,” said  Adam Gelb, current director of the Public Safety Performance Project at the Pew Center on the States and formerly,… View Article
Originally published April 21, 2010 Each day across Georgia, the state Department of Corrections prepares three meals per day to feed a population that is nearly equal to the number of residents living in Marietta.  It takes thousands of pounds of food to feed nearly 60,000 adult prisoners.  Paying for all that food served at 31 state prisons costs taxpayers $1 billion per year, including the cost to manage 150,000 parolees. This month the PEW Center on the States reported the first year-to-year drop in state prison population since 1972.   The percentage rate began to decline in 2007, but real numbers did not decline until last year.  Unfortunately, not in Georgia which posted the sixth largest percentage increase in the… View Article

What Difference Has RomneyCare Made?

Most conservative critics of the Massachusetts health reform have focused on any piece of bad news about the program they can find. After all, if this is the model for the federal legislation everyone calls “ObamaCare” it’s got to have a lot of defects. Right? Not so fast. The real story coming out of Massachusetts is that the whole thing is a yawner. Health reform in the Bay State has been mainly about money: who writes the checks and who cashes them. That shouldn’t be a surprise. That’s usually what health reform is about. But what about the effect on patients? As it turns out, there has been very little change at all. Does that mean that health reform at… View Article
Former Atlanta Public Schools board chairman Khaatim S. El released a lengthy statement Monday evening after his resignation from the APS board.  El presided over the board during its most controversial hours when the board itself was largely considered dysfunctional and the city found itself under a national microscope for one of the worst test cheating scandals on record.  Here is the complete text of the former board chairman’s statement: “Dear neighbor and friend, “I struggled tonight at the Board meeting to find the words to express how I feel. I take no solace in knowing that my beliefs have been confirmed by the recent report issues by the State of Georgia.  But in the end, whether right or wrong,… View Article
Vigorous reinvention of the scandal plagued Atlanta Public Schools system executive leadership team continued Monday evening when four area superintendents were replaced and the immediate past board of education president resigned. All four area superintendents were named in a test cheating report released last week by Governor Nathan Deal and special prosecutors.  Four middle and elementary school principals will replace the ousted area superintendents.  At least 183 APS personnel were implicated in the report; all are being removed from classroom or teaching supervision assignments. Atlanta interim superintendent Erroll Davis announced the changes during a board meeting just a few hours after his appearance before the Atlanta Rotary Club.  Davis was joined at Rotary by special prosecutors Mike Bowers and Bob… View Article
When the Atlanta Public Schools test cheating scandal investigation was released last week one section implied some business community sectors were more interested in protecting the city’s brand than in getting out all the test-cheating facts.  Now the two special prosecutors who ran the investigation are saying the business community has no choice: It must stay involved. “Just because something has gone wrong does not mean that the business community should back up and get out of the game,” former DeKalb County district attorney Bob Wilson said at a Monday luncheon.  “No.  It means you do what you do with your own business when there’s a setback.  You stay in the game (and) you work harder but do it with… View Article

347 Pages of Regulations; 811 References to Mandates

This is hot off the press from Chris Jacobs: HHS just released part of its Exchange regulations—a 244-page regulation regarding the establishment of Exchanges, and a separate 103-page regulation regarding risk adjustment.  While the Administration is trying to sell Exchanges as providing competition and flexibility, the 347 pages of regulations contain the word “require” a whopping 811 times (628 instances in the Exchange regulation, and 183 in the risk adjustment regulation).  It’s worth asking:  How flexible can a piece of regulation that has 811 separate references to mandates and requirements be? As noted previously, the documents just released comprise only “part” of the regulations necessary for states to implement health insurance Exchanges under Obamacare.  Page 11 of… View Article

Getting There

Imagine you are in a room full of diverse people, with differing political views and differing levels of understanding of economics and social science. You are discussing health care. Yet despite all this diversity there is amazing agreement. You agree on the problem, you agree on the general direction of a solution and then ….. WHAM …. you discover an opinion gap so wide it’s like the difference between night and day. This happens to me all the time. I find that I am in general agreement with the Obama administration, my friends at Dartmouth and even Don Berwick on four of five steps needed to get from where we are now to a better health care system. Here, for… View Article

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Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers more quotes