Tag: Kelly McCutchen

By Kelly McCutchen and Christie Herrera In a few weeks, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments from Georgia and 25 other states who are challenging the constitutionality of President Obama’s 2010 health care law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Meanwhile, another battle has been quietly taking place, as Georgia and other plaintiff states decide whether they should implement one of the law’s key components, a health insurance exchange. Earlier this year, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal and officials in the Legislature wisely agreed to halt implementation of the exchange – new government bureaucracies to regulate and subsidize health insurance – until the nation’s highest court rules in June. Last December, the governor’s advisory committee had recommended the… View Article
By Kelly McCutchen and John Berlau The news that Bank of America is again testing new fees is likely to prompt even more consumers, in Georgia and other states, to take their business away from big financial institutions and give it to regional banks and credit unions. While competition is the American way, it’s important to note that Bank of America and other banks are responding to federal price controls that raise costs for debit card processing. Now, smaller banks and credit unions (and their customers) are at risk from the same Washington price controls. These price controls, contained in the Durbin Amendment of “Dodd-Frank,” the so-called financial reform law Congress rammed through in 2010, offer no tangible benefits to… View Article
By Jeanette Moll and Kelly McCutchen Like many of their colleagues across the country, Georgia policy-makers are taking an increasingly close look at their criminal justice system. In search of both increased effectiveness as well as cost savings, policy-makers now have an ideal opportunity to evaluate and improve the correctional system. An essential part of that review must include that portion of the justice system which oversees juvenile delinquents. Georgia’s state budget for juvenile justice is $266 million in Fiscal Year 2011 and may grow to $279 million in 2012.1In addition, almost 50,000 youths are in the system each year, either awaiting adjudication or serving their sentences2– 50,000 youths who represent the future workforce and citizens of Georgia. Undoubtedly, the… View Article
By Kelly McCutchen In a typical election year, legislators tend to adopt a “do-nothing” attitude lest they somehow offend potential voters. This year in Georgia could, and should, be different in order to take advantage of several transformative opportunities. Georgia has the fourth-highest incarceration rate in the nation. This year offers an opportunity to implement reforms – proven in Texas and other states – to make our streets safer, change lives and save taxpayers money. Implementing more effective and less expensive sanctions for non-violent offenders, including treatment for drug addition and mental health issues, could save taxpayers more than $250 million. Eight states are currently considering significant income tax cuts. Last year, the tax reform council appointed by the Legislature… View Article

Georgia Needs a Personal Income Tax Rate Cut

By Kelly McCutchen Georgia is 48th in the nation when it comes to growth in personal income per capita over the past decade. Over the past year, job creation was the lowest in the nation and unemployment remains stubbornly high. This state’s economy clearly needs a jolt. Improving education, workforce training and transportation are critically important to economic growth, but they are long-term issues requiring significant lead time. On the bright side, tax policy can be enacted immediately, and a significant reduction in the personal income tax is just the jolt Georgia’s economy needs. Tax reform is no silver bullet, but economic experts concur that lowering tax rates spurs economic growth. The Legislature created its own expert tax-reform council two… View Article

Another View of Georgia Charter Schools Report

By Kelly McCutchen, Mark Peevy, Dr. Ben Scafidi and Dr. Eric Wearne Last year, the Georgia Supreme Court closed the Georgia Charter Schools Commission and gave local school boards “exclusive” control over public education in Georgia. Now legislators are debating whether the state should be able to authorize start-up charter schools and whether the state should have any role in education other than writing checks to school boards. Georgia parents clearly want start-up charter schools: Last year more than 5,000 students were on waiting lists to attend the state’s few start-up charter schools. This may be why an overwhelming majority of the Legislature wants to change the state Constitution to make these start-up charter schools a viable option for Georgia… View Article
How has Georgia responded to the Great Recession compared to other states? The latest data from the Census Bureau tells us some things we knew and some things some might find surprising. Everyone likes rankings, but it’s very important to make sure state-to-state comparisons are fair. Some states are very decentralized, with local government accounting for a large portion of all government spending, while state government plays a larger role in other states. State spending on K-12 education, for example, ranges from 31 percent in Nevada to 85 percent in Hawaii. For this reason, it is important when comparing states to examine state plus local spending. In addition, comparing spending as a percentage of personal income (rather than spending per… View Article
“Steven,” a young student from a low-income family, wanted to become an engineer. He understood his best chance of success was to enroll in his district’s math- and science-focused charter school. But the charter school could not afford a track team or such facilities, and Steven was an exceptional runner who was expected to earn a college track scholarship. The young man and his family were forced to make a choice: Pursue the option to finance his college education through an athletic scholarship but with an inferior academic education, or pursue the charter school option that would best prepare him academically for college and career – without athletic opportunity. This is a choice no student should be forced to make.… View Article
As Georgia emerges from the recession, we face a great opportunity to reshape state government for the future. Rather than blindly funding the same ineffective programs, we can rebuild smarter, more efficient programs. ● Gov. Nathan Deal and the General Assembly laid the groundwork in 2011 for the first fundamental change by establishing a panel of experts to review Georgia’s criminal justice system. The panel’s recommendations present a common-sense strategy to divert nonviolent offenders, especially those with drug or mental health problems, to more effective treatment and community-based options. This will help free up Georgia’s overcrowded prisons, reduce pressure on local jails and still protect people from violent felons. The significant long-term savings from lower incarceration costs will fund the… View Article
Civil asset forfeiture – which is defined as law enforcement’s authority to seize private property on the suspicion of a crime — has landed on the Georgia State Capitol doorstep.  This week the Georgia Public Policy Foundation called for a rewrite of the state’s asset forfeiture laws to protect citizens whose property was seized even though they are charged with no crime. “This issue is more of a threat to private property in Georgia than any other issue,” said GPPF President Kelly McCutchen.  “When you have an innocent owner who has done nothing wrong, hasn’t been convicted of a crime, has not been accused of a crime, and their own government seizes property without compensation, and they have to sue… View Article

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U.S. Attorney General Griffin Bell more quotes