Category: Commentaries

By Dr. Holly Robinson In the same week recently, the city of Marietta’s Sawyer Road Elementary School had its charter approved to become an International Baccalaureate (IB) conversion charter school and second-grade teacher Emily Jennette was selected as the 2008 Georgia Teacher of the Year.    The IB Primary Years Programme (PYP) is built in units that focus on inquiry framed units across disciplinary themes of global significance. The program is especially appropriate for this new Georgia Teacher of the Year who, as the educational ambassador for Georgia’s public schools, represents Georgia public school teachers across the state.  Growing up in Germany in a military family, Jenette attended Department of Defense schools from elementary to high school. She graduated from Germany’s… View Article
By David Boaz Four hundred years ago this month 105 men and boys disembarked from three ships and established the first permanent English settlement in North America. They built a fort along what they called the James River, in honor of their king. The land was lush and fertile, yet within three years most of the colonists died during what came to be known as “the starving time.” Only the establishment of private property saved the Jamestown colony.  What went wrong? There were the usual hardships of pioneers far from home, such as unfamiliar diseases. There were mixed relations with the Indians already living in Virginia. Sometimes the Indians and settlers traded, other times armed conflicts broke out. But according… View Article
By Ronald E. Bachman Governor Perdue said at the opening of the 2007 session, “Keep the main thing the main thing.” The “main things” for 2007 were listed as jobs, education and health care. In response to this challenge, legislators are discussing a number of creative approaches to health care during this year’s legislative session. These proposals are important: They could save hundreds of lives, improve the health of thousands of individuals and increase the personal and family security for millions of Georgians. Healthcare Visions Inc. estimates that these ideas would lower health insurance premiums by 40-56 percent and would provide the opportunity for about 500,000 of the more than 1.6 million uninsured Georgians find and afford health insurance. Insurance… View Article

Laying the groundwork for major fiscal reform

By Kelly McCutchen With more than a half-billion-dollar budget surplus and a booming stock market, Georgia’s economic future looks bright. Of course, things looked bright in the late 1990s, too. Trying to gauge the economy 12-18 months into the future is difficult, if not impossible, but that is exactly what state legislators are asked to do each year when they pass a budget. Even as this year’s session features debate on grand ideas, legislators’ priority should be to lay the foundation for reforms that will strengthen Georgia’s economy in good times and bad. At least 10 major tax reform ideas have emerged over the past year. Many of these ideas may appear attractive at first glance, but each should be… View Article

Facts Not Fear on Air Pollution

By Joel Schwartz Air pollution has been declining for decades across the United States, yet most Americans still believe air pollution is a growing problem and a serious threat to their health. The reason: Most information on air pollution from environmentalists, regulators and journalists – the public’s main sources for information on the environment – is false. Air quality in America’s cities is better than ever. Between 1980 and 2005: ● Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) declined 40 percent. ● Peak 8-hour ozone (O3) levels declined 20 percent, and days per year exceeding the 8-hour ozone standard fell 79 percent. ● Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels decreased 37 percent, sulfur dioxide (SO2) dropped 63 percent and carbon monoxide (CO) concentrations were reduced… View Article

Base Tax Reform on Principles, Not Interests

By Kelly McCutchen State and local governments operate in a cycle of feast or famine. With projections of surging tax revenues for Georgia after one of the toughest downturns in recent history, it’s no surprise that there are myriad tax reform proposals before state legislators. Before the feeding frenzy begins among the special interests, legislators must hold firm to some basic economics. Fiscal reform shouldn’t emanate from those with the most powerful lobbyists; it should be based upon time-tested and economically sound principles. While there may be justifiable exceptions, it should take compelling evidence to break the following principles: Minimize the impact of taxes on economic growth. Relative to most states, Georgia’s overall economy is thriving. We need to keep… View Article

A New Day for Georgia Education

By Dr. Benjamin Scafidi and Dr. Holly Robinson The new, more rigorous statewide curriculum, the Georgia Performance Standards, which will make our students and schools more globally competitive, is now being implemented. The results of the 2006 Georgia Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests (CRCT) are trickling in and early indications are that scores have dropped on some tests. This, however, is actually good news. Why are we celebrating? Several national organizations – most recently the RAND Corporation – point out that every state in the nation has lower standards on its own curriculum-based exams relative to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). NAEP, known as “the Nation’s Report Card,” is a highly regarded battery of tests designed to measure what students… View Article

Legislative Session Good for Business

By Kelly McCutchen Georgians won’t know who this year’s political winners will be until November, but the state’s small businesses were the clear winners in the legislative session. And that’s not small potatoes: More than 150,000 small businesses employ nearly one-third to nearly one-half of all working Georgians, depending on the definition of a small business.   These small businesses provide growing job opportunities, innovation and marketplace competition – unless, that is, they’re stifled by overregulation.  One of the most important actions during the session wasn’t even a new law. It was Governor Perdue’s executive order to state agencies to provide regulatory flexibility for small businesses. Overt tax issues receive the majority of attention, yet complying with numerous and complex rules… View Article

Commentary: The Hidden Cost of “Planning”

By Randal O’Toole Planners rarely say, even among themselves, that one goal of growth-management planning is to drive up housing prices in order to discourage people from living on large lots. One rare exception recently took place in Portland, Oregon, when real estate professionals noted that suburban land values had reached a “tipping point” where it was now worthwhile for developers to buy suburban single-family homes and replace them with high-density housing. The 1997 regional plan for Portland had directed that two dozen cities and three counties in the region rezone some neighborhoods to higher densities in anticipation of this point being reached. Yet nothing in the plan itself, or any of the supporters of the plan, ever mentioned that… View Article
By Benita M. Dodd Transportation proposals are chasing lawmakers at such an exciting and breathtaking pace this year that the convergence of plans under the Gold Dome seems destined to outdo NASCAR’s legendary pileups. Just last November, Georgia Public Policy Foundation senior fellow Robert Poole, who is the Transportation Director of Reason Foundation, outlined a massive, innovative and astonishingly bold plan to get Atlanta out of the congestion forecast for the metro area. It included an express network of high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes instead of planned high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes; a tunnel from the southern end of Georgia 400 to I-20 and on to I-675; an east-west toll route from Lakewood Freeway to I-20, and a truck toll tunnel that… 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