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

Health care policy gets a shot in the arm

By Kelly McCutchen Georgia became a national leader in health care reform this week after Governor Sonny Perdue signed two bills into law at the Atlanta Medical Center. This practical legislation addresses some of health care’s biggest challenges – the high cost of insurance, inequities in the tax code, the lack of portability and the increasing toll of chronic disease. Other states have attempted broader reforms that have failed (California and Illinois) or are struggling (Massachusetts). But John Goodman, President and CE0 of the National Center for Policy Analysis described Georgia’s as “very significant reforms.” “Georgia is now the second state in the union to allow employers to help their employees obtain personal and portable health insurance – the type… View Article

Positive Outcomes of the ’08 Legislative Session

By Kelly McCutchen Those who watched this year’s legislative session as they would a hockey game – waiting for the fight – were not disappointed. Going in, the focus was a “WETT” session: water, education, taxes and transportation. But beneath the political theatre, the final score indicates a victory for good public policy. The border war with Tennessee stole water headlines, but in the undercurrent Georgia gained a statewide water management plan, significant new funding and enabling legislation to encourage the construction of new reservoirs. Businesses gained consistency when legislation passed prohibiting tougher local restrictions on outdoor watering during drought than the state’s, with an appeal mechanism for local governments to opt out of the state restrictions. And the Legislature… 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

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