Category: The Forum

Commentary  By Kelly McCutchen Georgia’s revenue numbers are going from bad to worse, and education is one of the areas facing challenges. These trying times could provide parents of the state’s K-12 students with the opportunity to finally join the parents of college students, pre-k and special needs students able to use their tax money to choose a school that best serves their children while ensuring more funds are available for education.    Senator Eric Johnson (R-Savannah) has unveiled a plan that would allow parents to use a scholarship to send their child to the public or private school of their choice. Yet within minutes of Johnson’s Groundhog Day announcement, it was like “Groundhog Day” the movie, with the naysayers repeating… View Article

Property Tax Relief for Whom?

By Charlie Bethel  Among the taxes Georgians pay, the property tax rises to the top of  “most hated.”  It is not the tax that takes the most money from Georgians, nor is it a tax that sends relatively large sums of money to the Gold Dome in Atlanta or to Washington. Nevertheless, Georgians despise paying taxes on their land.    For an elected official serving at the local level, casting a vote to reduce property taxes feels good. But capping the annual value increase in property assessments in the name of property tax relief is bad policy for Georgia and no answer to property tax woes.   Assessment caps artificially suppress the taxable value of property that does not change ownership. As… View Article

Competition Drives Cost Savings in Auto Insurance

By Dr. Joseph P. Fuhr, Jr. If one thing stands out from recent news reports on auto insurance in Georgia, it’s that economic regulation and rate review are not needed to protect the state’s consumers from rate gouging.    With nearly 90 auto insurance providers in the state, Georgia consumers enjoy more competition and choice of auto insurance plans than they do for most other goods and services. Where else can Georgia shoppers find so many choices – food, housing, medical care, telephone service? The ability of consumers to shop, choose and switch will lead to overall competitive rate levels with no suggestion of monopoly profits. The state’s auto insurance markets do not show characteristics of natural monopoly, unfair competition or… View Article
By Chick Krautler A recent fact-finding mission to Texas, led by Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue, was an excellent opportunity for Georgia’s state and regional transportation policy-makers to learn from folks who have made progress in attacking their congestion and mobility challenges through tolling, alternative funding and alternative project delivery.  Georgia’s Department of Transportation (DOT) is tackling a funding and project delivery crisis and the Governor is developing a statewide transportation strategy through the IT3 (Investing in Tomorrow’s Transportation Today) program.  Texas faces many of the problems that Georgia does. A fast growing state with significant congestion in its urban centers, it has an estimated transportation funding shortfall of $66 billion and limited opportunities for new taxes. Its aggressive approach to… View Article

Less is More in Government

By Brad Alexander  Many public sector managers rank downsizing and dismissing government workers somewhere between a toxic waste spill and a nuclear apocalypse on the undesirability scale. Recent news coverage shows that when funds are scarce their preference is for across-the-board furloughs, elimination of travel funding, delayed construction projects and field office shutdowns.   On the other hand, trimming inefficiency from government workforces is popular among taxpayers, who must tighten their own belts during economic downturns. Everyone has encountered government employees who are some combination of unresponsive, incompetent, unmotivated or clueless. Likewise, there are government folks who go far and above in creatively solving problems and moving new ideas and improved processes forward.    Is it unreasonable to fire the incompetent and… View Article

The Needless Burden of Local Assistance Grants

By Kevin Schmidt When Governor Sonny Perdue signed Georgia’s $21.1 billion budget for fiscal 2009, it contained $6 million for Local Assistance Grants (LAG), funds appropriated and allocated to a specific recipient or local government for a specific purpose. Lawmakers try to use the fact that these handouts are a relatively small part of the state budget – about 0.03 percent the ’09 budget – to defend the spending.  The size notwithstanding, taxpayers need to question these appropriations. Does the specified program constitute a legitimate function of government? Is this program a local, rather than state, responsibility? Does it pose an undue burden on the local government’s budget?  The evidence shows that a vast majority of these special projects to… View Article
By Benita M. Dodd  Internet-savvy bank customers in Georgia can go online and check and balance their accounts from the comfort of their home, even at 2 in the morning.  But let that same taxpayer be curious at 10 a.m. about how his taxes are being spent in Georgia, and he’d have a tough time finding out. Transparency legislation that passed the Georgia House and Senate unanimously could soon help. The Transparency in Government Act will establish a free, searchable Web site that contains state expenditures, financial and performance audits, contracts, payments to vendors and data on personnel. The personnel data will include boards, commissions, every state authority, every university or college in the University System of Georgia and every… View Article
By Kelly McCutchen “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others,” George Orwell wrote in his classic work, “Animal Farm.” That was fiction. But it’s a reality in public education: All public schools are equal, but some public schools are more equal than others. Georgia’s charter schools are public schools that are exempt from some rules and regulations. In exchange for that flexibility they are held accountable for student achievement goals. As public schools, charter schools must accept all students. Yet today in Georgia, students who move from a traditional public school to a state-chartered public school located in the same school system lose as much as two-thirds of their public funding. The state has a… View Article
By Vance Smith (Excerpted from remarks by Georgia Rep. Vance Smith (R-Pine Mountain), chairman of the House Transportation Committee, at a Georgia Public Policy Foundation Policy Briefing Luncheon on transportation.) I know we’ve talked to a lot of you here this past summer when we had the transportation funding study committee. I appreciate you speaking up, letting us know how you feel, because that’s the only way we’re going to arrive at a solution to transportation. There’s no one person, as Senator Jeff Mullis said, no “silver bullet.” There’s no one solution out there. And there’s certainly room for everybody’s opinion; I think that’s very important. If we take our time, be very patient, we have the responsibility first of… View Article

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