Category: Commentaries

By Doug Collins Georgians value justice. My father was a State Trooper for 31 years, and he helped me understand that an effective criminal justice system elevates human dignity by punishing wrongdoing, protecting victims and rehabilitating offenders. By taking this approach, our own state effected a 21 percent drop in violent crime between 2005 and 2016. State leaders, watching Georgia’s prison population more than double between 1990 and 2011, responded with meaningful changes to its justice system, including prison reform.   Some prisoners have records that scare us; they should remain safely behind bars. Others have made mistakes they can pay for and recover from. Prison reform is structured to help these individuals redeem themselves, and the lower crime rates… View Article
By Kyle Wingfield Lots of things die at the end of a legislative session: bills, constitutional amendments, one’s faith in humanity (just kidding about that last one – mostly). Some of what doesn’t survive is not to be regretted; some is. Rarely do lawmakers stand by as an effective entity fades into the sunset. But there was one such case this year. The Georgia Council on Criminal Justice Reform was created in 2013 – by a law that provided for its dissolution on June 30, 2018, unless legislators voted to keep it running. They did not. So, after five years of vetting and proposing ways to make the state’s criminal justice system work smarter, the council will close less than … View Article

Tax Season is Easier This Year

By Brandon Arnold and Benita M. Dodd Tax season is a traditionally dreadful time of year for Americans. Nobody likes having to account for how much the Internal Revenue Service is reaching into our pockets. But this year, Americans across the country and in Georgia can take a breath of relief, knowing the benefits they’ve already started to experience because of tax reform are only going to get better. The federal tax law cut rates at every level of the income ladder, and in January the tax withholding calculations were adjusted so Americans started seeing those tax cuts show up in their take-home pay. Paychecks are larger. Companies across the country have issued bonuses for their workers. People have more… View Article

Release the Health-Care Market

By Kyle Wingfield The contract dispute between Piedmont Healthcare and Blue Cross and Blue Shield appears to be over: The two parties this past week confirmed a “handshake deal” at the urging of Gov. Nathan Deal. Georgians who seek care via both companies – not just in Atlanta, but from Columbus to Athens, Blairsville to Elberton – were caught in the middle when the contract expired April 1. They can breathe a bit easier now, but this is no way to run a health-care market. Deal, who was in Congress when Democrats passed Obamacare, surely reminded both companies the only beneficiaries of these fights are those pushing the next government-centric step of single-payer health care. And this wasn’t even the… View Article
By Kyle Wingfield Charter schools are public schools. Charter schools are public schools. Charter schools are public schools. Forgive the repetition, but for a lot of people this simple fact doesn’t seem to be sinking in. The legislative session that ended March 29 saw a number of policy fights, but the most surprising, and disappointing, might have been the one waged over a bill to bring state charter schools — one subset of one subset of public schools — merely up to the statewide average for per-pupil funding. House Bill 787 didn’t clear the Senate until after 8 p.m. on Day 40, more than a month after the House passed it. In the end, it did so with the support… View Article

Winners and Losers in Georgia’s 2017-18 Session

By Benita M. Dodd The second half of Georgia’s biennial legislative session that ended March 31 turned out to be surprisingly more intensive than expected. Election-year sessions are typically low-key and feel-good; everybody wants to leave ASAP to begin fund-raising, which is prohibited during the session. In summary, legislation moved on transportation, taxes, education and criminal justice reform. It sputtered on health care.  And, as expected, some feel-good but unnecessary bills got through. Undoubtedly, the biggest winner under the Gold Dome was education. With higher-than-expected state revenue estimates, Governor Nathan Deal ended the state shortfall in Georgia’s complicated QBE funding for public schools, long a sore point with advocates of public school spending. Legislation ensures Georgia’s 33,000 state public charter… View Article
By Daniel Sperling and Steven Polzin This commentary is based on, “Three Revolutions: Steering Automated, Shared, and Electric Vehicles to a Better Future,” by Daniel Sperling, published February 2018 (Island Press) Bad news for transit keeps rolling in. Transit ridership declined in 34 of the 40 largest metropolitan areas over the past three years. New York’s subway woes continue, Washington Metro struggles with funding and maintenance and, even in Los Angeles with its massive rail system buildout supported by $120 billion in tax increases over 40 years, ridership is declining. Explanations for declining ridership include low gasoline prices, economic growth, increasing car ownership, immigrants’ fear of using transit, homeless loitering, and safety and security concerns.  While ridership routinely… View Article
By Benita M. Dodd The average Georgian has never been under the Gold Dome. Many have vague memories of a two-headed calf on display during a State Capitol school field trip. For most Georgians, the closest they get to the General Assembly is their legislator’s local townhall meeting or, if they are really interested, watching legislators in action online. For this reason, the Georgia Public Policy Foundation marks Sunshine Week. In its 18th year and celebrated March 11-17 this year, the event highlights government transparency and access to public information. Transparency is the reason the Foundation has campaigned for years to have elected officials and local government share more data online, accessible to ordinary, working Georgians and the watchdog… View Article

Time is On Our Side in Transforming Georgia Transit

By Baruch Feigenbaum The Georgia General Assembly deserves praise for working to improve transit in Georgia. Two bills, one in the House and one in the Senate, focus on the funding and structure of Georgia’s transit systems. Both bills would create a regional board to oversee transit in 13 metro Atlanta counties, allowing the counties to impose sales taxes for transit projects if approved by voters. The regional board would approve the project lists for any county transit referendum but the taxes could only be spent in the county in which they are raised. Metro Atlanta commuters often live and work in different communities, making an oversight board critical. Many regions, including Denver and Washington D.C., have boards that help… View Article
By Benita M. Dodd Crossover Day, day 28 of Georgia’s legislative session, is the deadline by which legislation must pass out of one chamber into the next in order to have a chance at becoming law. The Georgia House ended its Crossover Day past the midnight hour Thursday. Among the casualties was legislation to establish education savings accounts. This mechanism would have allowed parents to spend their child’s state public education dollars on a menu of pre-approved education services, including private school and tutoring expenses. Not even an amendment to restrict the program to one quarter of 1 percent of the Georgia’s public school enrollment – fewer than 4,500 students – would sway opponents. The Department of Audits and Accounts… View Article

The Foundation’s positions are well thought out and are often ahead of their time.

State Senator Jack Hill more quotes