Category: The Forum

Transportation Planning: A Long Road Ahead

By Benita M. Dodd The Georgia Department of Transportation’s Draft Statewide Strategic Plan released this month reflects the state’s transportation approach for the next 20 years and, it’s promising that this time it’s two steps forward and just one step back. Amid ongoing discord about transportation solutions and funding options, observers must demand Georgia not shoot itself in the foot while hobbling ahead. The plan outlines a transportation strategy for Georgia to create 425,000 jobs and $480 billion in economic benefits through additional investment, regional and local partnerships “and a new paradigm of results-based investments in public infrastructure.” The DOT deserves credit for making some tough admissions in the draft plan, which notes that after two decades of under-investment, the… View Article
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

Letter to the Editor on the Falcons Stadium

Dear Editor: As a life-long fan I am thrilled to see the Atlanta Falcons succeed on the football field, but that is no reason for taxpayers to subsidize a new stadium. Most importantly, study after study finds that sports stadiums rarely offer taxpayers a positive return on investment in terms of economic impact. If anything, entertainment spending is simply shifted from other activities. They have been playing football in the same stadium at Georgia Tech since 1913 and at the University of Georgia since 1929 thanks to continuous renovations. The Georgia Dome was completed in 1992. What does it say to the taxpayers who subsidized the $214 million investment in the Dome if it is demolished and another $300… 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 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

The Foundation’s Criminal Justice Initiative pushed the problems to the forefront, proposed practical solutions, brought in leaders from other states to share examples, and created this nonpartisan opportunity. (At the signing of the 2012 Criminal Justice Reform bill.)

Governor Nathan Deal more quotes