Category: The Forum

Less is More in Government

By Brad Alexander  Many public sector managers rank downsizing and dismissing government workers somewhere between a toxic waste spill and a nuclear apocalypse on the undesirability scale. Recent news coverage shows that when funds are scarce their preference is for across-the-board furloughs, elimination of travel funding, delayed construction projects and field office shutdowns.   On the other hand, trimming inefficiency from government workforces is popular among taxpayers, who must tighten their own belts during economic downturns. Everyone has encountered government employees who are some combination of unresponsive, incompetent, unmotivated or clueless. Likewise, there are government folks who go far and above in creatively solving problems and moving new ideas and improved processes forward.    Is it unreasonable to fire the incompetent and… View Article

The Needless Burden of Local Assistance Grants

By Kevin Schmidt When Governor Sonny Perdue signed Georgia’s $21.1 billion budget for fiscal 2009, it contained $6 million for Local Assistance Grants (LAG), funds appropriated and allocated to a specific recipient or local government for a specific purpose. Lawmakers try to use the fact that these handouts are a relatively small part of the state budget – about 0.03 percent the ’09 budget – to defend the spending.  The size notwithstanding, taxpayers need to question these appropriations. Does the specified program constitute a legitimate function of government? Is this program a local, rather than state, responsibility? Does it pose an undue burden on the local government’s budget?  The evidence shows that a vast majority of these special projects to… View Article
By Benita M. Dodd  Internet-savvy bank customers in Georgia can go online and check and balance their accounts from the comfort of their home, even at 2 in the morning.  But let that same taxpayer be curious at 10 a.m. about how his taxes are being spent in Georgia, and he’d have a tough time finding out. Transparency legislation that passed the Georgia House and Senate unanimously could soon help. The Transparency in Government Act will establish a free, searchable Web site that contains state expenditures, financial and performance audits, contracts, payments to vendors and data on personnel. The personnel data will include boards, commissions, every state authority, every university or college in the University System of Georgia and every… View Article
By Kelly McCutchen “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others,” George Orwell wrote in his classic work, “Animal Farm.” That was fiction. But it’s a reality in public education: All public schools are equal, but some public schools are more equal than others. Georgia’s charter schools are public schools that are exempt from some rules and regulations. In exchange for that flexibility they are held accountable for student achievement goals. As public schools, charter schools must accept all students. Yet today in Georgia, students who move from a traditional public school to a state-chartered public school located in the same school system lose as much as two-thirds of their public funding. The state has a… View Article
By Vance Smith (Excerpted from remarks by Georgia Rep. Vance Smith (R-Pine Mountain), chairman of the House Transportation Committee, at a Georgia Public Policy Foundation Policy Briefing Luncheon on transportation.) I know we’ve talked to a lot of you here this past summer when we had the transportation funding study committee. I appreciate you speaking up, letting us know how you feel, because that’s the only way we’re going to arrive at a solution to transportation. There’s no one person, as Senator Jeff Mullis said, no “silver bullet.” There’s no one solution out there. And there’s certainly room for everybody’s opinion; I think that’s very important. If we take our time, be very patient, we have the responsibility first of… View Article

Rail’s No Way In or To San Jose

By Benita M. Dodd For those who love to watch the passing parade – and have the time and inclination – few places are better than the sardine can that is a train. That’s why, once one neglects to make a timely reservation on any of the popular 30-minute, $40 road shuttle services between San Francisco and San Jose, the $7.50 Caltrain ticket becomes an enticing option. Once. For 90 minutes in a nearly empty doubledecker car, you have the unique opportunity to eavesdrop on loud cell phone conversations; watch the Webcam conversation on the laptop beneath you; follow in fascination as a wannabe chef creates and devours a strawberry shortcake before your very eyes, or gaze out a grimy… View Article

Does Socialism Work? Debunking the Myth

By John C. Goodman David Himmelstein and his wife Steffie Woolhandler are associate professors at Harvard Medical School. Together they are a one-couple team, promoting Canadian national health insurance in the United States. They provide the intellectual leadership for the Physicians for a National Health Program. They are about the only academics around whose scholarship routinely gives aid and comfort to the advocates of socialized medicine, unless you count the Commonwealth Fund. They are pleasant (at least to me); they are dedicated; and they are wrong. I first debated David on a college campus about 15 years ago. My most recent debate with them is reprinted in Annals of Thoracic Surgery. In between the two debates I had an epiphany.… View Article

Shining Some Light on State Spending

By Kelly McCutchen “No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth!” More than 50 years after Ronald Reagan made this statement, government at all levels continues to grow. Georgia is under particular pressure this year to fund legitimate programs that have fallen behind such as transportation and trauma care, even as economists forecast lower revenues due to an unstable economy. Before we create new spending programs, Georgia needs to increase scrutiny of its existing spending. Georgia Speaker of the House Glenn Richardson is on the right track with his recent announcement that the House will apply zero-based… View Article

Priorities should drive transportation policy

By Ron Sifen The metropolitan planning organization for the 10-county metro Atlanta region, the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC), recently adopted a $67 billion package of transportation projects over the next 25 years. But there’s a problem: The ARC anticipates that the region will have only about $46.5 billion available over the next 25 years. The ARC is responsible for development of the Regional Transportation Plan for the city of Atlanta and 18 surrounding counties: Barrow, Bartow, Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, Coweta, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Forsyth, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry, Newton, Paulding, Spalding, Rockdale and Walton. As those governments know, there is a big gap between $67 billion and $46 billion. Having approved the list of projects, the Atlanta Regional Commission has laid… View Article

To have an organization dedicated to the study of the problems that face Georgia in a bipartisan way….is absolutely one of the finest things that’s happened to our state.

The late W. H. Flowers, Jr., Chairman, Flowers industries, Inc. more quotes