Category: Government Reform

By Benita M. Dodd Georgia’s thriving economy is drawing more people into the state. A visible effect is the increase in traffic and congestion. Less visible is the soaring demand for housing, especially in metro Atlanta. As housing demand grows, so does the cost of buying and renting. With more people competing for the available homes in the metro area, homeowners can afford to price them higher and landlords can ask higher rents. Lower-income hopefuls are forced to move farther away from jobs, increasing their commutes and raising the cost of transportation. Government bureaucrats feel obliged to step in as teachers, first responders and service-industry workers struggle to find homes they can afford near their jobs. The inclination is to… View Article
By Kyle Wingfield The 2019 legislative session started as something of a blank slate: a new governor, new lieutenant governor and lots of fresh faces in both the House and the Senate. While that kind of turnover always breeds uncertainty, it’s also an opportunity. On some issues, legislators seized the moment. On others, less so – although thanks to the General Assembly’s two-year terms, hope lives on until next year. Let’s start with what did get done. Of all the bills sent to Gov. Brian Kemp for his signature, perhaps none has more potential to change Georgia for the good than Senate Bill 106. The “Patients First Act” gives Kemp the authority to seek more flexibility from the federal government… View Article

Baby Steps in Teacher Pension Reform

By Kyle Wingfield They say a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. The implication is that the first step won’t be the last. That’s the right way to think about House Bill 109, which is intended to address the increasingly worrisome debt for Georgia’s teacher pension system. It’s an initial step toward securing the retirement income promised to our public-school teachers past and present, but it isn’t nearly enough to take the system as far as it needs to go. The bill authored by Rep. Tommy Benton, a Republican from Jefferson and retired teacher, would make a few changes to the pensions of new teachers starting July 1. They wouldn’t be eligible for a pension until… View Article
By Benita M. Dodd Housing needs, trends and designs change constantly. Through the years, homebuilders have learned to meet the needs, wants and pocketbooks of homebuyers while innovating and adapting to meet changing standards for safety, land use and environmental protection. Now, however, elected officials are changing that dynamic. Local governments are stifling innovation, mandating aesthetics and materials, restricting designs and layouts, all while infringing upon the rights of private property owners. This week (February 20), the Georgia House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee narrowly approved a bill that would prohibit local governments from imposing “architectural ordinances” on new home construction. It must make its way through the Legislature. Consider the enormous differences among the Sears kit home, Craftsman bungalow,… View Article
Kyle Wingfield, president of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, was invited to provide testimony to the Georgia House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee on February 20, 2019, regarding architectural ordinances. His prepared testimony is published below.   GEORGIA HOUSE AGRICULTURE AND CONSUMER AFFAIRS COMMITTEE WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 20, 2019 KYLE WINGFIELD, PRESIDENT, GEORGIA PUBLIC POLICY FOUNDATION   To Chairman McCall and members of the House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee: Thank you for the invitation to provide testimony today about the issues addressed by House Bill 302. My name is Kyle Wingfield, and I’m the president and CEO of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, a nonpartisan, nonprofit, 501(c)(3) research institute based in Atlanta. The Foundation does not endorse or oppose specific… View Article

Case for Incentives Strikes Out

This commentary by John Hood, chairman of the John Locke Foundation, appeared in the Carolina Journal’s August 2018 edition. Read it online here. Case for Incentives Strikes Out By John Hood North Carolina politicians and policy analysts have been arguing for decades about targeted economic incentives. I have my own view on the subject, which I’ll share later in this column, but I think it would be helpful first to describe four very different takes on the issue. The central question is whether North Carolina’s state and local governments ought to try to compete with other jurisdictions across the country in offering targeted tax or cash incentives, either to lure new businesses or to entice current employers to stay… View Article

2019: Continue a Course of Bold Policies

By Kyle Wingfield A new governor, a new lieutenant governor, a host of new committee chairs – there are numerous reasons the 2019 legislative session is full of intrigue. Add to them Georgia’s growing political competitiveness, the possibility of a national recession sooner rather than later, and some truly important challenges, and there should be plenty of urgency, too. Start with health care. The federal government is stuck: Obamacare clearly isn’t working, but Congress has proved unable to repeal or even improve it. The siren song of Medicaid expansion is back for another chorus, but that’s the wrong answer. It costs too much, would shift a quarter-million Georgians off their private insurance plans, delivers less access to care than beneficiaries… View Article
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution of January 25, 2019, published an op-ed by Kyle Wingfield on what should be the Georgia General Assembly’s focus in 2019. The op-ed, “Ga. should continue its bold, thoughtful course,” is accessible online on the newspaper’s website here and is published in full below.  Ga. should continue its bold, thoughtful course By Kyle Wingfield A new governor, a new lieutenant governor, a host of new committee chairs – there are numerous reasons the 2019 legislative session is full of intrigue. Add to them Georgia’s growing political competitiveness, the possibility of a national recession sooner rather than later, and some truly important challenges, and there should be plenty of urgency, too. Start with health care. The federal government… View Article

Make Civility and Civics a Winning Combo in 2019

By Benita M. Dodd A good man passed away on January 2nd. Bob Hanner, 73, had served 38 years in the Georgia General Assembly, transitioning from South Georgia Democrat to South Georgia Republican before leaving the Legislature in 2013. Most people have forgotten why he left. A census-based reapportionment, coupled with a declining Southwest Georgia population, meant Hanner, representative from the 148th District (Parrott), and Gerald Greene, who had served the 149th District (Cuthbert) for 30 years, would have to face each other in the newly drawn 151st House District. “We talked about it – knew it was coming – and I told Bob I wouldn’t run if he decided to,” Greene told The Albany Herald in 2012. “Of course,… View Article

2018 Victories: Slow and Steady Wins the Race

By Kyle Wingfield As 2018 dashes away like Donner and Blitzen, many Georgians will remember it as a year of major political transition. But 2018 also brought some substantial improvements to Georgians’ lives through better policy, much of it championed by the Georgia Public Policy Foundation. The year began with a bit of a hangover from 2017: The tax reform that Congress passed late last year, though beneficial for your federal tax bill, threatened to raise your state taxes if unaddressed. Thankfully, legislators didn’t drop the ball. They set in motion a series of changes that will shield more of Georgians’ income from the state income tax and, for the first time in our state’s history, lower the top marginal… View Article

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