Then and Now
Did you know? In 1991, the year the Georgia Public Policy Foundation was established, Gov. Zell Miller led the Legislature to approve a lottery for Georgia, with proceeds funding special programs, including his HOPE Scholarship for college and technical-school students, pre-K programs and educational technology. This week, the nation saw the highest PowerBall jackpot ever: $1.6 billion.
January 27: Georgia State Sen. Hunter Hill, State Rep. Mike Dudgeon and education innovator Mike Davis are panelists at the Foundation’s annual National School Choice Week celebration. Register now for, “Georgia Education: Reforms and Recommendations,” a Leadership Breakfast 8 a.m. Wednesday, January 27 at Cobb County’s Georgian Club. This panel discussion is open to the public. $30. Free parking. Information here; register to attend here.
February 17: Mark your calendar for, “Georgia Criminal Justice Reform: Looking Ahead, Staying Ahead,” an 8 a.m. Foundation Leadership Breakfast at Cobb County’s Georgian Club. The keynote speaker is Judge Michael P. Boggs, co-chairman of the Governor’s Criminal Justice Reform Task Force ; details to follow.
Quotes of Note
“Let us be dissatisfied until the dark yesterdays of segregated schools will be transformed into bright tomorrows of quality integrated education.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
“If Republicans want some free advice – coming from a GOP legislator of a different era – the best thing they could do is to quit regulating everything that isn’t nailed to the ground. Sadly, the GOP takeover has been accompanied by a proliferation of laws designed to regulate virtually every aspect of our lives.” – Matt Towery
Not-so-open meetings: In an era of waning civic engagement, it’s disappointing when elected officials in Georgia work to stifle the “public” in public office. The latest: Brantley County’s Commission wants citizens to sign up for public comment and declare the topic a week before its agenda session, which takes place before its regularly scheduled meetings. Meanwhile, the agenda will merely be posted “as far in advance as is reasonably possible prior to the meeting.” But what if a citizen wishes to address an issue that is on the agenda? By contrast, Cobb County and Fulton County, for example, sign up speakers immediately before meetings.
ATL vs. LA: Los Angeles is refusing to offer government subsidies for a new stadium, The Wall Street Journal reports, citing cities like Atlanta that have subsidized stadiums, “despite a wealth of academic studies showing that stadiums and arenas are poor investments when it comes to economic development.”
Free the Beer: A new proposal in the General Assembly would level the playing field and simplify regulations by regulating Georgia craft beer the same as wine. An attempt to do this last year led to special interests watering down the bill and regulators gutting it. Read the Foundation’s white paper on alcohol distribution law, published 14 years ago and, sadly, still applicable today.
A Streetcar still struggling: This month, the Foundation criticized the Atlanta Streetcar in The New York Times. This week, the Georgia Department of Transportation, too, criticized the system’s operations. Its 129-page report, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “contained few surprises about the streetcar’s now well-documented troubles.”
Shovels ready? The Georgia Department of Transportation laid out a project list this week showing where additional transportation funding will be spent over the next ten years, including maintenance of existing roads and bridges, significant investment in developing Metro Atlanta’s express toll lane network, which will help traffic congestion and improve transit, and other new projects statewide.
Access to care: Primary care doctors, spurred by frustration with insurance requirements, increasingly are bringing “health care for billionaires” – known as concierge care or direct primary care – to the masses, including people on Medicare and Medicaid, and state employees. Source: NPR
Tax cut: Removing the sales tax on energy brought Georgia 22,000 manufacturing jobs, a 6.4 percent rise, or double the U.S. rate. Source: Morris News Service
Fiscally fine: State fiscal balance sheets are becoming more important, says former U.S. Comptroller General David M. Walker. He cites the PwC State Financial Position Index, where Georgia ranks in the top five. (Good news for our AAA credit rating.)
Online learning honors: The University of Georgia ranks No. 5 for online bachelor degree programs in the 2016 U.S. News & World Report Best Online Programs Rankings. Also in the top 100: Savannah College of Art and Design (24); Georgia College & State University (49) and University of West Georgia (72). Scoring well in online MBA programs, too, were Georgia College & State (22); Georgia Southern (28); Kennesaw State (28); West Georgia (55); Columbus State (62) and Valdosta State (69). Georgia College & State also ranked No. 8 for online nursing degrees.
This month in the archives: In January 2001, the Foundation published, “Deregulation Not to Blame for High Gas Bills.” It noted, “Everyone in the country is feeling the impact of higher prices. If something is to blame, it is the weather’s influence on the guiding principle upon which our economy is based – supply and demand. Lawmakers should exercise caution in this volatile marketplace and leave the tinkering to the PSC.”
Foundation in the news: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution published an op-ed by Kelly McCutchen on the 2016 session. The inaugural issue of Capitol Faces by ZPolitics features an article by Benita Dodd on Georgia energy policy. The Athens Banner-Herald published Kelly McCutchen’s commentary, “Lawmakers should focus on empowering individuals.”
Visit http://www.georgiapolicy.org to read our latest commentary, “Beyond Medicaid: Health Care for Low-income Georgians,” by Benita M. Dodd.
Have a great weekend!
Kelly McCutchen and Benita Dodd
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When I served four terms in the state Senate, one of the few places where you could go to always and get concrete information about real solutions was the Georgia Public Policy Foundation. That hasn’t changed. [The Foundation] is really right up there at the top of the state think tanks, so you should be very proud of the work that they are doing!