Category: The Forum

By Kelly McCutchen In ordering legislators to redraw the state House and Senate district maps by March 1, a panel of federal judges has given Georgia legislators an opportunity to put sound policy over politics. The sound policy in this case is to draw compact, logical districts that keep communities together and encourage competitive elections. Districts designed to protect incumbents of one particular party only encourage voter apathy and cynicism about our government, increase the influence of special interests and produce career politicians who become more interested in increasing their own influence and power rather than representing the people they serve. Our democratic republic is at risk when the average citizen – even politically active citizens – cannot describe the … View Article

Permit Transfers Hold Water For Georgia

By Benita Dodd It may seem that Georgia’s water problems are Atlanta’s alone, but the state’s economic engine is hardly alone in its concerns about water quality or quantity.   Rincon, in Effingham County, is withdrawing more groundwater than allotted, but the state prohibits it getting more water from the Floridan Aquifer while a scientific study is under way. The Environmental Protection Division wants Rincon to tie into the county’s surface water pipeline. City officials cite concerns about water quality and expense and have even considered borrowing water withdrawal permits. Rincon is suing the EPD and being sued by stymied developers. Tybee, approaching its groundwater allocation, has another 100 condominiums permitted. The city is offering to buy back irrigation meters from… View Article

Commentary: Clearing the Air on Saving Americans’ Lives

By R. Harold Brown Did you know that America’s cleaner air has saved more than 2.5 million lives over 20 years? It was news to me, but it must be true: It’s reported on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Web site. In fact, despite this impressive statistic being around since 1997, I dare say it’s news to most citizens. Neither the EPA nor others that I’m aware of are trumpeting this victory. It’s more likely that Georgians have heard the dire warnings of danger from the “spewing” of toxins from smokestacks and engine exhausts, and the projected number of deaths unless said “spewing” stops. Just one example is the Clean Air Task Force’s report in 2000 that claimed, “Nationwide, power-plant… View Article
By Benita M. Dodd There’s a belief that the only reason proponents of airport privatization want the city of Atlanta to hand over airport operations to the private sector is so that it would operate more efficiently, therefore cost-efficiently. The airport is already operating efficiently, some say, and that negates the need for privatization. The bottom line is this: The city of Atlanta says it needs $3.2 billion to upgrade its sewer system or it faces court-ordered economic decline brought on by sewer moratoriums. Its options are to obtain the money from ratepayers, continuing to ratchet up sewer rates to the extent that industry and wealthier residents relocate while the 25 percent of households that are low-income must be subsidized.… View Article
By Mac Gibson and Josh Belinfante A rural Georgia hospital was forced to forego renovations and an expansion of its emergency room.[1] Family practitioners in central Georgia can no longer afford the medical malpractice insurance premiums that accompany delivering children or performing Caesarian sections.[2] Many radiologists are no longer reading mammograms because it can make their premiums unaffordable.[3] Malpractice lawsuits and insurance premiums are skyrocketing, and the litigation juggernaut affects the lives of Georgians every day. Georgia is representative of several states across the nation. The American Medical Association currently lists 19 states, including Georgia, as having a “medical malpractice crisis.”[4] A major cause of the crisis is the dramatic increases in the number of medical… View Article
By Grace-Marie Turner The health sector is poised to enter a dramatic new era of consumer-driven health care. People are demanding more control over decisions involving their health care and medical coverage. And the Internet allows consumers easy access to a wealth of medical information that was available only to professionals as recently as a few years ago. But public policy is lagging behind. It is suited to an Industrial Age, not our Information Age. Private and public sector bureaucracies, not consumers, still are in charge because they control the finances and therefore the decisions. The United States has been struggling for decades to find a way to provide its citizens with access to health insurance. We have expanded existing… View Article
By Wendell Cox and Ronald D. Utt As much as 20 percent of federal transportation funding goes to transit, which serves less than 2 percent of travelers. Of the many rationales offered in defense of disproportionately high transit spending, the most novel put forth this year is the bizarre claim by the Surface Transportation Policy Project (STPP) that auto ownership by the working poor leads to a more limited standard of living and diminished home ownership opportunities. Members of lower-income households who cannot afford cars account for a majority (approximately two-thirds) of today’s transit riders, and the emergence of prosperity among this group threatens transit with the loss of its captive constituency and further shrinkage of its miniscule market share.… View Article

State Needs to Come Around to Roundabouts

By Dan Winn Even a transportation novice observing the graceful traffic flow around Ellijay’s bustling town square in Northeast Georgia would come away mystified that there are so few circular intersections, or “roundabouts,” in the state and the nation. Like Ellijay’s 2-year-old roundabout surrounding a memorial to slain warriors, these traffic devices have a whole lot more than grace going for them. As a more efficient method of moving traffic through most intersections, they have the potential to save this nation millions of gallons of gasoline and millions of hours in commute time, all while reducing traffic deaths and injuries. A roundabout, in its simplest form, is a circle of road that surrounds a raised island in the middle of… View Article
By Ronald Utt Recent projections by the Office of Management and Budget and the Congressional Budget Office reveal that the highway trust fund will run out of money during FY 2009. Unless the fund is replenished soon, federal spending on highways could decline significantly as the fund reverts to a spend-as-you-earn basis until a permanent remedy is enacted. Until then, one solution is to re-concentrate the fund’s focus on highway investment and safety by abandoning the many low priority and non-transportation diversions that now encumber the federal program. The soon-to-be-empty trust fund is a direct consequence of recent congressional overspending in excess of the fuel tax revenues that replenish the fund as well as decades of congressional mandates allowing non-highway… View Article
By Kelly McCutchen From an economic perspective, it’s not surprising that health care costs keep rising. Although we may not believe it so, most of us are insulated from the majority of health care costs by a tax code that favors employer-purchased health insurance. We pre-pay the majority of our health care expenses through health insurance. But because employers bear most of the cost of insurance for the average employee, most people have no idea how much their insurance really costs. Employees who complain, for example, when their co-payments for an office visit increase from $10 to $25, often are  oblivious that their annual insurance premium – paid for by their employer – may have increased by $1,000.  Co-payments and… View Article

When I served four terms in the state Senate, one of the few places where you could go to always and get concrete information about real solutions was the Georgia Public Policy Foundation. That hasn’t changed. [The Foundation] is really right up there at the top of the state think tanks, so you should be very proud of the work that they are doing!

Congressman Tom Price more quotes