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By Mike Klein Mike Klein, Editor, Georgia Public Policy Foundation Discussion about mental health and other substance abuse treatment alternatives was front and center Wednesday when criminal justice system officials addressed House and Senate joint appropriations lawmakers at the State Capitol.  “Mental health is a huge issue in all the things we do,” Judge Robin W. Shearer said on behalf of the Council of Juvenile Court Judges. Georgia is in the early stages of significant adult and juvenile justice system reforms that focus on how to ensure incarceration for the most serious offenders, and how to provide community treatment options for offenders who do not benefit from or even require incarceration. Last year the General Assembly passed reforms to move… View Article
By Mike Klein Mike Klein, Editor, Georgia Public Policy Foundation Governor Nathan Deal has proposed a $19.864 billion state dollars budget for the new fiscal year that starts in July, up about 2.7 percent from this year’s $19.341 billion budget.  The Fiscal 2014 proposed budget was released on the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget website while Deal delivered his State of the State address at the Capitol.   Total state spending next year would be about $40.837 billion with the other $21 billion being anticipated federal funding. The trend line here continues to be fiscal savings and a big emphasis on health care cost strategy. Governor Deal devoted the bulk of his address to four policy areas – public safety,… View Article
By Mike Klein Mike Klein, Editor, Georgia Public Policy Foundation What we know or can know about each other never ceases to amaze me and it constantly evolves.  Netflix knows the movies we like.  Amazon knows what we want to purchase.  Websites target us with messages based on how we use websites.  Even toddlers use the web for videos and games as they acquire skill sets that will be essential for learning and success. The all-knowing online digital world will re-imagine and liberate learning.  “Education used to be someplace you went to.  You used to go to school to learn,” says John Bailey, executive director of Digital Learning Now!  “Now all of a sudden learning can come to wherever… View Article
By Mike Klein Mike Klein, Editor, Georgia Public Policy Foundation Governor Nathan Deal said the state Department of Community Health has been told to reduce its amended current fiscal year budget by 3 percent and then find 5 percent more in new cuts next year to help the state absorb Medicaid costs that continue to escalate.  The state faces a Medicaid deficit that will approach $800 million during the next 18 months of its fiscal cycle. Deal devoted nearly his entire speech to health care expense when he addressed the Georgia Chamber of Commerce annual “Eggs and Issues” breakfast Wednesday at the World Congress Center in Atlanta.   The Governor also suggested folks who cannot attend Thursday morning’s State of the… View Article
By Michael Horn Michael Horn, Co-Founder and Education Executive Director, Innosight Institute The potential of a competency-based (or mastery-based) education system powered by digital learning to customize for each individual student’s needs and bolster learning excites many. A question some ask though is: What about the unmotivated students? Won’t they be left behind? Furthermore, in light of the recent publicity around the research on the importance of grit — defined as “sticking with things over the very long term until you master them” — to life success, some further suggest that although competency-based learning and blended learning are nice, unless we solve the problem of instilling grit or perseverance in all students, isn’t it true that those next-generation learning things… View Article
By Eric Wearne Eric Wearne, Senior Fellow, Georgia Public Policy Foundation In 1988, Isaac Asimov was interviewed on PBS, and made some truly futuristic pronouncements about online learning (though he didn’t call it that at the time).  For example, Asimov argued that, “Nowadays what people call learning is forced on you, and everyone is forced to learn the same thing on the same day at the same speed…,” and, he added, “Now, there’s the possibility of a one to one relationship for the many.” Twenty-five years later, we are still trying to catch up with some of Asimov’s ideas.  Inside Higher Education reports on a new survey showing that while the growth of online learning has slowed, it hasn’t yet… View Article

Public Sector Pension Plans to Face Tighter Scrutiny

By Steve Metz Steve Metz Government pension plans have been in the news a great deal the past few years and it hasn’t been pretty – due in large part to poor investment performance these public plan costs have skyrocketed along with their unfunded liabilities.  Governments all over the country have been hit hard with huge increases in legally required pension contributions that are devastating their budgets.  New accounting rules coming soon will bring even more attention to these issues. Before we go too much further, it is important to note that determining the value of pension plan unfunded liabilities is an inexact science. For example, the magnitude of the liabilities is extremely sensitive to certain assumptions such as future… View Article

A Child Nods to Health Reform

  Ronald E. Bachman, Senior Fellow, Georgia Public Policy Foundation By Ronald E. Bachman (With thanks to E.A. Poe’s, “The Raven”)  Once upon a weekday dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary, My youthful brain was being fair, to learn about ObamaCare, While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my bedroom door, “Tis some visitor,” I thought, “Tapping at my bedroom door – Only this and nothing more.” Then a Spirit came over me, as I dreamed of liberty, Could I keep my Doctor Seuss, my baseball cap, my Mother Goose? And with my needs could I be sure, that my doctor would have a cure For complex ills and… View Article
By Mike Klein Mike Klein, Editor, Georgia Public Policy Foundation What you are about to read is a big deal:  Georgia has significantly reduced the number of state custody male inmates sitting in local county jails.  Georgia corrections commissioner Brian Owens made the announcement this week during a Special Council on Criminal Justice Reform meeting in Forsyth.  His comment so surprised judges, legislators, prosecutors and others that several let out a huge gasp. “As a result of the legislation and your recommendations, today we have zero males … zero males … in county jails waiting to come into the state system,” Owens said.  “We have about 200 females but we’re going to address that come January and February.  We’ll be… View Article
By Russ Lipari  Marshall Memorial Fellows are a select group of emerging U.S. leaders in an annual, 24-day program to expose them to a changing and expanding Europe. This year, Russ Lipari was one of three Georgia participants among 50 selected from across the nation and traveled across Europe studying health care systems. We passed through security in an eight-story building in downtown Prague, capital of the Czech Republic. On the sixth floor, it took two wrong turns before we found the door marked 14 where we were to meet with the head of the country’s largest insurance company, VZP.  We exchanged pleasantries and I had my at bat, a rapid fire of questions in hopes of gaining a better… View Article

…One of the best things about the Georgia Public Policy Foundation is that it has such a broad membership base.

Dr. Wendy L. Gramm, Former Chairwoman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission more quotes