Friday Facts: December 7, 2012

In the 1970s, when the top rate on wage and salary income was 50 % and 70% on investment income, high earners spent much of their time and energy seeking tax shelters, Michael Barone points out.

Deal: Major Health Policy Decisions “In a Holding Pattern”

By Mike Klein Governor Nathan Deal expressed displeasure with the U.S. Supreme Court decision on federal health care reform during a Thursday afternoon news conference, describing it as “the largest tax increase in the history of the United States, at least $500 billion and perhaps significantly more.”  The Governor also admitted he was surprised by the decision because he thought the Court had given “pretty strong signals” that it had problems with the individual mandate. The Governor appeared alone when he spoke to reporters and a large crowd that assembled … Continue Reading →

More Coverage: U.S. Supreme Court Health Care Law Decision

The U.S. Supreme Court has voted 5-4 to uphold the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act federal health care reform law. This means the individual mandate survives. There are questions about how this decision will affect state Medicaid programs, including Georgia Medicaid. Today we will monitor the extensive reactions to this historic decision. This is the second of two files on the Foundation blog. Please see the earlier file for those reactions earlier today. Compiled by Mike Klein. Interview with Cindy Zeldin, Executive Director, Georgians for a Healthy Future: “It’s a … Continue Reading →

Medicaid Dominated when Deal Advisors Took Questions

By Mike Klein Medicaid is a beast.  About one-in-five Georgians receives Medicaid health care.  That is 1.7 million people.  Fifty-nine percent of statewide births are Medicaid babies.  Another couple hundred thousand children are enrolled in PeachCare, the state children’s health insurance program.   Medicaid could grow by hundreds of thousands more if the U.S. Supreme Court upholds the federal health care reform law in its decision expected next month. Not at all surprisingly, Medicaid redesign questions were abundant when three of Governor Nathan Deal’s advisors met with Georgia Children’s Advocacy Network … Continue Reading →

Reed: What We Need is More STEAM in Our Classrooms

By Mike Klein Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed thinks our classrooms need more hot air.  “We actually need STEAM – science, technology, engineering, arts and math,” Reed told an “Education Nation” audience Monday morning at the Georgia Aquarium.  Later he added, “America cannot continue to be what it has been if we continue to have the kind of educational system that we have.” “Education Nation” is a two-year-old NBC News project to create solutions-based conversations about learning in America.  Atlanta is one of five cities being toured this year.  Reed was … Continue Reading →

Who’s the Executive in Charge of Criminal Justice Reform?

By Mike Klein Governor Nathan Deal signed criminal justice reform legislation Wednesday, triggering the most aggressive rebranding of the state’s approach to criminal perpetrators in several decades.  But one question that needs to be resolved is who’s responsible for making sure this all happens? It sounds like the answer begins with the Special Council on Criminal Justice Reform whose work provided the structure for Georgia’s new law.  Governor Deal signed House Bill 1176 during an upbeat signing ceremony just below the north steps at the State Capitol in Atlanta. Answering … Continue Reading →

Senate Passes Criminal Justice Reform 51-0 with Amendments

By Mike Klein Georgia criminal justice reform has passed both chambers but the House would need to agree to substitute legislation because the Senate added seven amendments when it passed the bill 51-0 on Tuesday afternoon.  Two other floor amendments failed and two were withdrawn. None of the amendments dramatically change Georgia’s most sweeping criminal justice reform since a generation of do the crime, do the time laws were passed some twenty years ago. Governor Nathan Deal made criminal justice reform a major priority during his first State of the … Continue Reading →

Full Court Press Behind the Savannah River Project

Here’s something you might not know about the Savannah River and Harbor expansion project.  Georgia sturgeon living about 130 miles up the river would get a new bypass to their spawning grounds.  In fact, $225 million or about one-third of total cost has been allocated to environmental mitigation, including the purchase and permanent preservation of some 2,000 shoreline acres. Dredging the Savannah River and harbor to 48 feet from its current 42-foot depth is quite possibly Georgia’s most significant economic development project since Atlanta was rebuilt after the Civil War, … Continue Reading →

Governor Defends $19.2 Million Budget at Capitol Hearing

Governor Nathan Deal opened three days of House-Senate appropriations hearings by taking exception to media reports that suggest his budget is a significant spending increase. Deal proposed a $19.2 million Fiscal 2013 budget, up from $18.3 million this year.  Increases would fully fund anticipated K-12 enrollment growth, required pension and the state health care benefit obligations, improve Medicaid funding and enable the state to purchase new prison beds “for those who truly need to be locked up,” the Governor said. “Other than funding these areas of growth, my budget calls … Continue Reading →

At Least One Republican Supports Health Insurance Exchange

Republicans seem almost united that the General Assembly should not consider legislation this session to create a health insurance exchange.  “The House, the Senate and the Governor have all agreed to wait on that,” Sen. Renee Unterman said Thursday morning. Well, united with at least one exception.  Former lawmaker and second-year Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens said, “I would like to see the legislature move forward with an exchange,” when he sat next to Unterman at “Health Care Unscrambled” hosted by Georgians for a Healthy Future.  Think of it as “Eggs … Continue Reading →

There Was Lots to Like About Deal’s State of the State Address

Governor Nathan Deal looked to the stars for guidance Tuesday evening as he delivered his second State of the State address before the General Assembly in Atlanta.  During a 42-minute address the Governor from Gainesville described his goal to achieve another world class medical college in Georgia, announced millions of new dollars for public education, threw a lifeline to former state commission charter schools and he put his stamp firmly onto corrections reform.  Before doing that, Deal turned to the stars. “Georgians have charged us to set a course for … Continue Reading →

Georgia Public Broadcasting Gets Zero-Based Budget Review

Georgia Public Broadcasting was named in Governor Nathan Deal’s 2013 proposed budget as one of 35 programs that will participate in zero-based budgeting reviews.  GPB is the only state authority whose budget shows up in the zero-based budget review category. During his Tuesday evening State of the State address Governor Deal said 10 percent of state programs would move to zero-based budgets. Popularly known as GPB-TV and GPB Radio, the authority’s official name is Georgia Public Telecommunications Commission.  The state public broadcaster is attached to the University System Board of … Continue Reading →

Legislature Should Venture into Bold and Innovative Territory

As Georgia emerges from the recession, we face a great opportunity to reshape state government for the future. Rather than blindly funding the same ineffective programs, we can rebuild smarter, more efficient programs. ● Gov. Nathan Deal and the General Assembly laid the groundwork in 2011 for the first fundamental change by establishing a panel of experts to review Georgia’s criminal justice system. The panel’s recommendations present a common-sense strategy to divert nonviolent offenders, especially those with drug or mental health problems, to more effective treatment and community-based options. This … Continue Reading →

Less Time, More Treatment Possible for Low-Risk Drug Abuse

Next month the Georgia legislature will begin to consider whether substance abusers who are not a public safety risk should receive a stay out of jail card. How lawmakers decide the question could slow down runaway costs and impact state corrections policy for decades. Last month the Special Council on Criminal Justice Reform said options – notably, more drug courts and treatment plus more day reporting centers — could reduce state prison population growth.  Drug courts are part of an accountability sentencing movement that includes mental health courts and veterans’ … Continue Reading →

Special Council on Criminal Justice Reform Report Released

This morning Governor Nathan Deal’s office has released the long-awaited Special Council on Criminal Justice Reform recommendations.  Here is Governor Deal’s accompanying statement: “The Special Council on Criminal Justice Reform has exceeded expectations by delivering a comprehensive, serious and well-crafted report. I joined members of the General Assembly in asking this council to provide us with a starting point. We still have a long way to go in this process, as my office engages with legislators and concerned Georgians on where we go from here. Obviously, the council has provided … Continue Reading →

Excerpts: Special Council on Criminal Justice Reform Report

The following excerpts contain all the substantial recommendations contained within the Special Council on Criminal Justice Reform report that was released today by Governor Nathan Deal’s office. There was no news conference at the time this article was posted.  The online complete Special Council report contains extensive sourcing footnotes that were eliminated here to ease reading.  Edited for length. Policies to Protect Public Safety, Hold Offenders Accountable and Contain Corrections Costs Georgia policymakers are looking for ways to increase public safety and to control corrections spending and growth in the … Continue Reading →

Deal, Olens Welcome Supreme Court Health Care Review

Governor Nathan Deal and Attorney General Sam Olens issued strong statements on Monday in support of overturning federal health care reform, just a few hours after the U.S. Supreme Court said it will review  legislation that became law 20 months ago. Olens said the Supreme Court hearing scheduled for early next year is “a crucial step in our long fight to reign in the federal government’s unconstitutional over-reach into the healthcare marketplace.”  Deal’s statement recognized “the fight against the crippling mandates of Obamacare,” which has become a popular term for … Continue Reading →

Rogers Wade Receives Policy Foundation Freedom Award

The Georgia Public Policy Foundation has named Rogers Wade recipient of its 2011 Freedom Award which is presented to a Georgian who has exemplified the principles of private enterprise and personal integrity.   Mr. Wade is chairman of the Foundation, former chief of staff to U.S. Senator Herman Talmadge and a current adviser to Governor Nathan Deal and U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson.  Mr. Wade serves on many public sector boards and he has long advocated and supported U.S. military troops through his USO involvement. Almost 400 guests were on hand when … Continue Reading →

Deal, Olens Praise Rejection of ObamaCare Individual Mandate

Georgia’s governor and attorney general said Friday’s decision by the federal appeals court in Atlanta that strikes down the federal health care reform individual mandate is “a huge step toward victory” but ultimately, ObamaCare will be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. Governor Nathan Deal and Attorney General Sam Olens issued a statement about two hours after the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta released its 2-to-1 opinion: “We applaud today’s ruling from the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit striking down the individual mandate as ‘a wholly … Continue Reading →

Governor Deal Asked: Is Transportation Sales Tax In Trouble?

Governor Nathan Deal did not hesitate Wednesday when was asked whether the state regional transportation sales tax referendum scheduled for next year is in trouble, as some believe.  If the measure passes the sales tax would be imposed for ten years and it would fund projects that voters would know about before they approve the money. “I don’t necessarily think that it is,” Governor Deal replied during a news conference at the State Capitol.  “Obviously, anytime in an economy like we have now getting people to understand that an additional … Continue Reading →