Category: Commentaries

Tolls Could Bail Metro Area Out of Congestion

By Benita M. Dodd  Transportation expert Robert Poole found an unusually receptive audience for his congestion-relief proposals at a recent Georgia Public Policy Foundation Leadership Breakfast. The founder of the Reason Foundation, whose 1988 policy paper inspired a California private tollway law that became a national prototype, was discussing his newest proposal for relieving congestion in eight metropolitan areas, including Atlanta. Instead of adding high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes to highways, Poole says, metro Atlanta should construct a network of high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes. Buses and van pools would travel free and unimpeded on dedicated lanes funded in part by motorists willing to pay a variable price by electronic toll to escape the congestion. It’s not pie-in-the-sky:HOT lanes already are operating… View Article
By Benita M. Dodd There’s not a single good reason for Asthma Awareness Month. There are, in fact, more than 20.3 million good reasons, all of them Americans who report currently suffering form asthma. And among them are 6.3 million children. Marking World Asthma Day on May 6, Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson acknowledged asthma as “one of the most common chronic health conditions in the United States.” He announced federal grants would fund innovative community-based disease prevention and control programs. The Environmental Protection Agency marked the day differently, announcing a partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to develop an air-quality forecasting tool. “The 31 million Americans with asthma, including 9 million children, will breathe… View Article
By Johnny Isakson Federal income tax policy drives the financial decisions of business and individuals alike. It always has, and it always will. Tax reductions spur the economy. They always have, and they always will. This month, the United States House of Representatives will act on President Bush’s economic stimulus-and-growth tax reduction proposals. I fully support the president’s proposals and the additions included in the recommendations of the House Ways and Means Committee. These recommendations properly address three key factors essential to economic prosperity: consumer purchasing power, individual and corporate investment, and job creation. The president’s acceleration of the 2006 income tax reductions to 2003 will immediately increase the purchasing power of every taxpaying American citizen. The average American family… View Article
By Kelly McCutchen If you owned stock in telecom companies last year, you probably learned a lesson about the risks of investing in the technology sector. These risks point to the need for caution as residents and leaders of Lowndes County review recent proposals for local government to enter the technology business. Much of the support for the proposed Valdosta Telecommunications Network (VTN) is based on a concern for high prices, particularly for broadband (techno-speak for fast) Internet service. An article in the Valdosta Daily Times reported that Lowndes County residents and businesses would save more than $80 million by entering the telecom business based on a recent study. This sounds enticing, but residents would be wise to remember the… View Article
By Benita M. Dodd Georgians need only access the latest lobbyist expenditure report on the State Ethics Commission’s Web site to understand the implications for taxpayers should legislators agree to do away with the registration requirement for state agency lobbyists. For February, according to the State Ethics Commission’s Web site (www.ethics.state.ga), lobbyists for the Georgia Board of Regents reported spending more than $11,000 on meals, tickets, receptions and sponsorship of events for legislators. Even so, the Board of Regents was outspent by the Georgia World Congress Center Authority’s lobbyists, who in February reported funding events and tickets for legislators totaling nearly $36,000. The Georgia Rail Passenger Authority spent $250. Whatever the amount, however, the unintended consequence of legislation aimed at… View Article

Tax Amnesty: Hidden Costs Outweigh Benefits

By Morgan Smith During the next few weeks, Georgia’s legislators will be looking for creative solutions to the state’s budget crisis. One possibility being considered is a tax amnesty, which is a tool many states have turned to in recent years. While the prospect of easy money can sound attractive, a closer look suggests that tax amnesties are not usually the right answer and should not be an option for Georgia. The first problem is that tax amnesties typically bring in much less incremental revenue than is reported. States like to announce how much revenue comes in the door during the amnesty period, but usually fail to account for the fact that most of these taxes would have been collected… View Article
By Ronald G. Cummings Over the last year or so there has been considerable controversy in Georgia concerning policies related to the planning and management of Georgia’s water resources. Two key issues in this controversy relate to protecting public interests in water, and reliance on markets as a means for resolving critical problems in reallocating water over time. These two issues are often combined within the context of the question: “Are Georgia’s waters a public resource or a commodity to be bought and sold?” This question is at best confusing and at worst misleading. The issue of whether or not Georgia’s water resources are a “public resource” is one that is independent of – not related to – the issue… View Article

We Need Axes, Not Taxes

By Kelly McCutchen Governor Sonny Perdue gave his first Budget Address this week. It is a speech that no governor likes to give, and one he certainly hopes not to give again. The new administration barely had time to clean up the confetti after its historic victory party in November before finding themselves in the middle of an historic budget crisis. The news was bad. For the first time in 50 years, state revenue collections were less than the previous year – easily the worst budget crisis in the modern era. In his budget address, the governor outlined a plan of budget cuts in some areas, tapping a portion of the state’s “rainy day fund” and a package of fee… View Article
By Chris Carr Right or wrong, needed or unneeded, government regulates commerce all of the time. Government will mandate, for instance, how much pollution may be released into the air, how many handicapped spaces must be included in a parking lot at a shopping center and whether warning labels must be used on particular products. Usually, these regulations do not cross the line into micromanaging private industry. Typically, politicians have not dared to tread into the realm of telling a business how it should operate and what it will or won’t sell. Apparently, the DeKalb County Commission doesn’t play by these time-honored rules. They recently stepped over the line by banning smoking in the private sector and began a new… View Article
By Kelly McCutchen People love trivia, so here’s a test: Describe the boundaries of your U.S. congressional district, as well as your Georgia House and Senate district. No clue? Don’t feel bad; outside of political operatives that keep district maps on their Palm Pilot, few people can pass the test. That’s why the biggest surprise for many voters on Election Day was not finding out the results of the election after they voted, but discovering what district they were in when they entered the voting booth. It’s bad enough that most voters can’t identify their elected officials, as Jay Leno so often points out with his “man on the street” interviews. But by creating these irregular shapes that we call… View Article

The Georgia Public Policy Foundation is our state’s leading organization promoting government transparency. The Secretary of State’s office shares the Foundation’s commitment to transparency and responsible stewardship of taxpayer dollars, which is why our agency was the first in Georgia to publish its budget and spending data on a public transparency website.

Karen Handel, Georgia Secretary of State more quotes