Category: Commentaries

Gwinnett Has Time to Do Transit Right

By Benita M. Dodd and Dave Emanuel Advocates of transit expansion in Gwinnett County blame timing for the failure of the March 19 transit referendum, which voters rejected 54-46 percent. The proponents, who say their well-funded advocacy plan got off to a late start and the special election date hurt turnout, vow they will be back again and again until transit expansion is approved. Make no mistake: Changing demographics and the money behind advocates practically guarantee transit expansion will come to pass in the growing county. The questions are how it will work and what the county needs. On that, referendum opponents won the day, despite a lack of organized opposition or funding for their effort. Timing did indeed play… View Article

Gwinnett Transit Vote a Mixed Bag

By Benita Dodd Before Gwinnett County voters even decide whether their transit plan leaves the station, it will cost taxpayers almost $770,000. That’s the cost of holding the election on March 19 instead of during last November’s general election. Such special elections are notorious for low turnout, bringing out the diehards on either side of an issue. They’re a waste of taxpayer money, a way for politicians to limit opposing voices, and they deserve to be outlawed. At the polls, Gwinnett’s voters face an especially vague referendum question – another practice long overdue for legislative change: “Gwinnett County has executed a contract for the provision of transit services, dated as of August 2, 2018. Shall this contract be approved? YES… View Article

Give Georgia’s Students Choices, Not Excuses

By Kyle Wingfield In almost a decade of writing about school choice, I’ve heard every excuse imaginable to oppose giving students and families educational options. I’ve heard critics say school choice is only for “the rich.” Not true – families of means already have options, thanks to their ability to pay private school tuition or move into a neighborhood with good public schools; school choice is about extending that liberty to those without means. I’ve heard critics say school choice hurts students who remain in public schools. In fact, as a 2016 review of the 33 empirical studies on the topic reported, “31 find that choice improves academic outcomes at public schools. One of the remaining studies finds that choice… View Article
Maureen Downey’s “Get Schooled” blog on AJC.com published, “Opinion: New study suggests vouchers may help Georgia public schools,” an op-ed by Kyle Wingfield, president of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, on March 3, 2019. The op-ed is published below. Access the op-ed online at https://www.ajc.com/blog/get-schooled/opinion-new-study-suggests-vouchers-may-help-georgia-public-schools/hnoULPdg9z0XZ2Zgq8HGTN/?. Opinion: New study suggests vouchers may help Georgia public schools Kyle Wingfield, a former Atlanta Journal-Constitution opinion columnist, is president and CEO of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research institute. In this guest column, Wingfield says legislation in the Georgia House and Senate allowing tax dollars to go toward private school tuition may help public education’s bottom line. Senate Bill 173 passed out of committee Thursday in a 9-3… 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
In this Research & Commentary published February 26, 2019, Matthew Glans of the Heartland Institute examines the revived debate in Georgia over the state’s controversial certificate of need program. The commentary is published in full below and can be accessed online here. Georgia  Should Address CON Reform By Matthew Glans Georgia is one of 35 states that institute certificate of need (CON) laws. First passed in the 1960s to deter increasing health care costs, CON laws were supposed to limit duplication and promote health care consolidation. In essence, CON programs require health care providers to receive state approval to increase facilities and services. However, CON laws can also restrict existing providers from expanding services or new providers from entering… 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

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
By Kyle Wingfield Bureaucratic arcana from Washington, D.C., hit Georgia’s headlines this week. Governor Brian Kemp announced he will seek federal “waivers” to improve health care in the state. But what exactly is a “waiver”? In short, it’s a way for the state to escape stifling federal regulations and provide Georgians with meaningful access to health care that’s affordable – and tailored to the needs and opportunities found all across Georgia. To understand why this is true, and how it would work, it’s worth learning a bit about waivers. First of all, what’s being “waived” are some of the strings Washington attaches to the money it sends states to help pay for some people’s health care. In theory, having some… View Article
By Baruch Feigenbaum A recent study, “Access Across America: Transit 2017,” by Andrew Owen and Brendan Murphy of the University of Minnesota, claims that accessibility to jobs by transit increased between 2016 and 2017. The study, which has been conducted for the past three years, has found increasing accessibility to jobs each year. Given declining transit ridership across the country, the study’s results seem surprising. But a closer look at the methodology shows that “accessibility to jobs” has little connection with actual transit ridership. The study estimates accessibility to jobs by transit and walking for each of the United States’ 11 million census blocks in 49 of the 50 largest metro areas (Memphis is excluded due to a… View Article

“I am here today to thank the Georgia Public Policy Foundation for your role in building a fiscally conservative, pro-growth state. Not only did you help pave the way for a new generation of leadership, you continue to provide key policy advice and to hold us accountable to the principles we ran on. In short, you have had a transforming influence on this state. We are healthier, stronger, and better managed because of your efforts.

State Senator Eric Johnson, President pro tempore, Georgia State Senate more quotes