Category: The Forum

Letter to the Editor on the Falcons Stadium

Dear Editor: As a life-long fan I am thrilled to see the Atlanta Falcons succeed on the football field, but that is no reason for taxpayers to subsidize a new stadium. Most importantly, study after study finds that sports stadiums rarely offer taxpayers a positive return on investment in terms of economic impact. If anything, entertainment spending is simply shifted from other activities. They have been playing football in the same stadium at Georgia Tech since 1913 and at the University of Georgia since 1929 thanks to continuous renovations. The Georgia Dome was completed in 1992. What does it say to the taxpayers who subsidized the $214 million investment in the Dome if it is demolished and another $300… View Article
By Benita M. Dodd For years, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International and Chicago’s O’Hare airports have competed for the title of nation’s busiest airport. Last year, Atlanta won. As the official temperature stations for their respective cities, however, it seems the two airports tie – for the dubious honor of distorted data. And they’re not the only ones. In 2008, meteorologist Anthony Watts wrote in the Illinois-based Heartland Institute’s Environment and Climate News: “The community around O’Hare was much smaller during World War II, when the airport was built, than it is now. The area had a significantly less-urban population and lacked the acres of concrete and asphalt that exist there today.” You could replace “O’Hare” with “Hartsfield-Jackson,” and the same would… View Article
By Chick Krautler A recent fact-finding mission to Texas, led by Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue, was an excellent opportunity for Georgia’s state and regional transportation policy-makers to learn from folks who have made progress in attacking their congestion and mobility challenges through tolling, alternative funding and alternative project delivery.  Georgia’s Department of Transportation (DOT) is tackling a funding and project delivery crisis and the Governor is developing a statewide transportation strategy through the IT3 (Investing in Tomorrow’s Transportation Today) program.  Texas faces many of the problems that Georgia does. A fast growing state with significant congestion in its urban centers, it has an estimated transportation funding shortfall of $66 billion and limited opportunities for new taxes. Its aggressive approach to… View Article

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

Thank you for what you are doing to lead the nation. The Georgia Public Policy Foundation is leading the way. This is truly one of the leading lights in the state think tank movement. Excellent ideas. It’s well run. For those of you who are donors I congratulate you on your wisdom and I encourage you to do it and do it more.

Arthur Brooks, President, American Enterprise Institute (2015) more quotes