Category: Commentaries

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

Still Asking for Whom Georgia’s Roads are Tolled?

By Benita M. Dodd The toll lanes are coming! The toll lanes are coming! Despite a lengthy history of tolling in Georgia, many current residents appear intimidated or uninformed about the state’s expanding toll lanes: how they work, what they do and whether to use them. Opposition misinformation also influences perceptions as memories and tales of the days of tolls fade. Recent recollections begin with the SR 400 toll plaza. The 50-cent fee was ended in 2013 by Governor Nathan Deal, who said he was keeping the state’s promise to end the toll once the construction bond was retired. Some people remember the 35-cent causeway toll onto St. Simons Island, which ended in 2003. (Jekyll Island calls its $6 toll… View Article

Fighting Fire with Fire

By Harold Brown Last fall, headlines blared the deadly conflagration in the West that scorched hundreds of thousands of acres and tens of thousands of homes. And, of course, many blamed climate change for what was seen as an increasing trend. Modern perceptions of fire trends often forget the past. A 2017 article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences claimed “The United States has experienced some of the largest wildfire years this decade, with over 36,000 km2 (8.9 million acres) burned in 2006, 2007, 2012 and 2015.” A book published by the Forest History Society in 2011, however, concludes, “The area burned by wildfire each year has decreased by 80–90 percent since the 1930s.” It continues: “However,… View Article
By Dave Emanuel Earth Day arrives again on April 22, and along with it the also-predictable heated rhetoric by climate change alarmists who bolster their claims with articles and opinions and state, “Facts matter,” or, “Science matters.” Not surprisingly, alarmists point to the burning of fossil fuels as the primary cause of carbon emissions and their effect on climate change. Not surprisingly, some form of taxation is cited as the primary means of reducing carbon emissions. The alarms sounded about consequences are largely inspired by studies and models predicting the apocalypse based on historic patterns. Yet, as even the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned in its 2007 report, “We should recognize that we are dealing with a… View Article

Georgia Needs an Earnest Effort at Tax Reform

By Benita M. Dodd Nearly a decade ago, Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue created the Georgia Special Council on Tax Reform and Fairness, “to examine the tax code of Georgia, review it for fairness, and then recommend a new tax structure that would be as growth-friendly and as job-friendly as we could make it.” Among the guiding principles was “a shift in emphasis from taxing income and investments to an emphasis in taxing consumption, where a wide range of personal choices can be made,” wrote the council chairman, A.D. Frazier. The goal was to lower the rate to 4 percent by 2014 and broaden the tax base. Among the council’s 2011 recommendations were that the state reduce and sunset numerous… 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
By Matt Ladner In “The Aviator,” director Martin Scorsese tells the story of Howard Hughes. Hughes is portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio as obsessively pushing the envelope forward in aviation, breaking both technical and legal barriers to progress. Pan American Airways serves as the film’s antagonist, attempting to preserve a legal monopoly on trans-Atlantic flight. Hughes sees this as “un-American.” He overcomes the Pan Am monopoly within a couple of hours of screen time. District near-monopoly on K-12 education has greater staying power. K-12 has been slowly evolving to become more diverse, pluralistic and dynamic. Education scholarship accounts (ESAs, also known as education savings accounts) represent the next step for Georgia to modernize K-12. The first K-12 education savings account program… View Article

The Truth About Education Scholarship Accounts

By Jeffrey H. Dorfman The Georgia Legislature is wrapping up the 2019 session and one item still being debated is a bill (HB 68) that would create an educational scholarship account program in Georgia. Educational scholarship accounts (ESAs, also referred to as educational savings accounts) provide parents who remove their children from public schools with money each year that can be used to pay private school tuition, buy materials for home schooling, pay tutors, or cover a variety of other educational expenses. The good news is that a new study I conducted for the Georgia Public Policy Foundation shows Georgia could implement such a program with no additional state spending while also financially strengthening public schools. The main finding: Public… View Article

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

Finally, a one volume resource from an independent source that gives those of us in public life a new view on which to make public policy.

Governor Roy Barnes more quotes