Category: Commentaries

By Mike Eckert Georgia is blessed with all of the elements to become a leader in 21st-century job creation and economic development. Schools in its University System and other colleges and universities within the state are among the finest in the country. Dynamic pockets of entrepreneurial activity exist throughout the state. Entrepreneurial activity is at an all-time high. But Georgia has a problem. The state is falling behind and losing its competitive advantage to others when it comes to supporting and enhancing early-stage business creation. Georgia is increasingly seeing entrepreneurs who are products of our state colleges and universities take their ideas and businesses out of state. Forty percent of Atlanta’s high-tech start-up companies leave the state within three years,… View Article
By Kelly McCutchen As state government faces falling tax revenues, it is critical to identify core government functions, prioritize those services and reduce spending on other lower priority programs. The Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority (GEFA) is a perfect example of a program that was started with good intentions, but over the years has dramatically expanded beyond its core mission. Rightsizing this agency would stimulate the private sector and yield a one-time savings of as much as $500 million to plug the growing hole in the state budget. History GEFA was created by the Georgia General Assembly in 1986 as an off-shoot of the Environmental Facilities Program, created in 1983, which had been a part of the Georgia Development Authority. GEFA’s… View Article

Whither Your Weather Depends on Station Location

By Benita M. Dodd For years, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International and Chicago’s O’Hare airports have competed for the title of nation’s busiest airport. Last year, Atlanta won. As the official temperature stations for their respective cities, however, it seems the two airports tie – for the dubious honor of distorted data. And they’re not the only ones. In 2008, meteorologist Anthony Watts wrote in the Illinois-based Heartland Institute’s Environment and Climate News: “The community around O’Hare was much smaller during World War II, when the airport was built, than it is now. The area had a significantly less-urban population and lacked the acres of concrete and asphalt that exist there today.” You could replace “O’Hare” with “Hartsfield-Jackson,” and the same would… View Article
By Ross Mason At charity clinics throughout Georgia, patients with no health insurance or who don’t qualify for government programs jam telephone lines to obtain an appointment. If the clinic doesn’t take appointments, patients line up at the doors and wait for hours for a chance to see a doctor, nurse or dentist. In 2008, Georgia’s 100-plus charity clinics cared for more than 175,000 patients. This year, some clinics are seeing as much as a 300 percent increase in patients due to the state’s record unemployment rate. Still, many get turned away. Community-based clinics use volunteers to provide care and charge little to nothing for patients who have no other means of accessing health care. Georgia’s charity clinics provide between… View Article

Removing the Political Shortage of Water

By H. Sterling Burnett and Ross Wingo About 82 percent of Americans receive drinking water via publicly owned water systems, according to the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Many of these municipal and regional systems operate at a loss, meaning users’ fees don’t cover the cost of treating and delivering the water. Many water authorities are critically behind on maintenance. They lack the capital to update their water purification and wastewater treatment plants or to secure additional water supplies to meet expected growth in demand. Privatization could solve these water supply problems. The majority of drinking water supply and treatment facilities and wastewater treatment plants in the United States are owned and operated by the government. According to the EPA,… View Article
By Kelly McCutchen Technology pundits may be debating whether we are in Web 2.0 or 3.0, but all too often, government is stuck in Web 1.0. Many governments are starting to pay lip service to “transparency” and some are reluctantly publicizing spending information on searchable government Web sites.  Frequently, however, the data are more than 6 months to a year old, not interactive and difficult to analyze. As this extended campaign season heats up, candidates and elected officials must be urged to “set our data free.” The Internet has changed dramatically in just the last few years. In addition to allowing anyone to cheaply publish information that is instantly available to the world through a Web site, the Internet has… View Article
By Benita M. Dodd They weren’t playing nice at the Capitol this year, and when legislators grabbed their toys and went home, neither chamber had won the transportation legislation tug-of war. Just because no agreement on funding was reached, however, doesn’t put the brakes on Georgia transportation policy.   First, despite the criticism over their disagreement, it’s just as well for Georgians that senators and representatives couldn’t find common ground over whether a statewide or regional one-cent sales tax plan could fund transportation. Why? Because carte blanche is passé. Georgians deserve better. They deserve a plan, to know what they’re voting for before they’re asked to pay higher taxes. And because just as Georgians must constrain their spending to their budget,… View Article
By Benita M. Dodd The standoff among the House, the Senate and the Governor’s office over competing transportation proposals continues under Georgia’s Gold Dome, but the Department of Transportation isn’t standing still. The DOT is moving right along with its plan to take Georgia commuters into the 21st century with a series of open houses through April focusing on the state’s first high-occupancy toll (HOT) lane project. The pilot project, expected to be operational in January 2011, would convert 14.3 miles of high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes to HOT lanes on Interstate 85 between Chamblee-Tucker Road (south of I-285 in DeKalb County) and Old Peachtree Road in Gwinnett County. The Georgia DOT intends the segment as the first of “a future… View Article
By Benita M. Dodd What you don’t know can indeed hurt you, especially when it comes to government. Just ask this week’s alleged victim, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, who claimed he knew nothing of the tradition of executive bonuses at AIG until after the company’s bailout by the federal government. That news broke during this year’s “Sunshine Week,” marked March 15-21 across the nation and appropriately as springtime arrived with its promise of better days. Amid these financial hard times, the week highlighting the successes and challenges of transparency in government holds a promise of better days for taxpayers as they grow more aware and wary of how government uses their hard-earned dollars. The good news for Georgians is that… View Article
By Kelly McCutchen In these difficult economic times, it’s increasingly important to increase state employees’ retirement security and avoid future reductions in benefits. Yet a new study finds that the long-term investment returns of Georgia’s pension funds trail the performance of nearly every large public fund in the nation. With a January market value exceeding $54 billion, Georgia’s pension funds could be foregoing more than $1 billion in investment returns each year. The study, released in January, was initiated by the Commission for a New Georgia. The goal of its Task Force on State Investment Strategies was “to ensure that our State’s investment entities employ state-of-art policies to enhance the return on investment while remaining prudent and conservative in its… 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