Essential Principles for Georgia’s Juvenile Justice System

By Jeanette Moll and Kelly McCutchen Like many of their colleagues across the country, Georgia policy-makers are taking an increasingly close look at their criminal justice system. In search of both increased effectiveness as well as cost savings, policy-makers now have an ideal opportunity to evaluate and improve the correctional system. An essential part of that review must include that portion of the justice system which oversees juvenile delinquents. Georgia’s state budget for juvenile justice is $266 million in Fiscal Year 2011 and may grow to $279 million in 2012.1In addition, almost 50,000 youths are … Continue Reading →

Georgia Public Policy Foundation 2012 Legislative Agenda

By Kelly McCutchen In a typical election year, legislators tend to adopt a “do-nothing” attitude lest they somehow offend potential voters. This year in Georgia could, and should, be different in order to take advantage of several transformative opportunities. Georgia has the fourth-highest incarceration rate in the nation. This year offers an opportunity to implement reforms – proven in Texas and other states – to make our streets safer, change lives and save taxpayers money. Implementing more effective and less expensive sanctions for non-violent offenders, including treatment for drug addition and mental … Continue Reading →

Georgia Needs a Personal Income Tax Rate Cut

By Kelly McCutchen Georgia is 48th in the nation when it comes to growth in personal income per capita over the past decade. Over the past year, job creation was the lowest in the nation and unemployment remains stubbornly high. This state’s economy clearly needs a jolt. Improving education, workforce training and transportation are critically important to economic growth, but they are long-term issues requiring significant lead time. On the bright side, tax policy can be enacted immediately, and a significant reduction in the personal income tax is just the … Continue Reading →

Another View of Georgia Charter Schools Report

By Kelly McCutchen, Mark Peevy, Dr. Ben Scafidi and Dr. Eric Wearne Last year, the Georgia Supreme Court closed the Georgia Charter Schools Commission and gave local school boards “exclusive” control over public education in Georgia. Now legislators are debating whether the state should be able to authorize start-up charter schools and whether the state should have any role in education other than writing checks to school boards. Georgia parents clearly want start-up charter schools: Last year more than 5,000 students were on waiting lists to attend the state’s few … Continue Reading →

Steven’s Story: Proof the Time is Now to Put Students First

“Steven,” a young student from a low-income family, wanted to become an engineer. He understood his best chance of success was to enroll in his district’s math- and science-focused charter school. But the charter school could not afford a track team or such facilities, and Steven was an exceptional runner who was expected to earn a college track scholarship. The young man and his family were forced to make a choice: Pursue the option to finance his college education through an athletic scholarship but with an inferior academic education, or … 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 →

Foundation: Georgia Should Rewrite Civil Asset Forfeiture Laws

Civil asset forfeiture – which is defined as law enforcement’s authority to seize private property on the suspicion of a crime — has landed on the Georgia State Capitol doorstep.  This week the Georgia Public Policy Foundation called for a rewrite of the state’s asset forfeiture laws to protect citizens whose property was seized even though they are charged with no crime. “This issue is more of a threat to private property in Georgia than any other issue,” said GPPF President Kelly McCutchen.  “When you have an innocent owner who … Continue Reading →

Making The Grade — A Must See Film About School Choice

The Georgia school choice story sometimes appears to need new faces and voices other than the usual suspects – politicians, teachers, charter school leaders and, yes, even policy folks who continue to push the pedal for increased school choice options. Many new faces and voices tell their stories in a terrific film that will premiere Thursday evening at the Cobb Galleria Centre with remote showings at locations statewide.  “Making the Grade in Georgia: Educational Freedom and Justice for All” packs a lot into one half-hour.  Regardless of where you stand … Continue Reading →

CAPCOs: Higher Costs + Fewer Jobs = Risky Idea

It’s an ugly secret that Georgia is losing talent, tax revenues and jobs. While the state is a “technology and scientific research powerhouse, 92 cents of every venture capital dollar invested in Georgia companies comes from out of state,” according to testimony last month by the executive director of the Enterprise Innovation Institute at Georgia Tech, Stephen Fleming. “We lose many smart entrepreneurs and promising startups to other states because venture capital firms want a closer eye on their investments,” Fleming said. Why is this important? Startups like these are … Continue Reading →

“The Cartel” Filmmaker Posts Video on APS Cheating Scandal

Documentary filmmaker Bob Bowdon – whose celebrated movie “The Cartel” probed deep into failures at New Jersey inner city schools – released a new internet video today about the Atlanta Public Schools test cheating scandal.  His video report can be viewed on ChoiceMedia.TV which debuted just one week ago.  The new site is aggregating education stories from all over. Bowdon’s report begins with WSB-TV’s Monica Pearson:  “Late this afternoon a statement on behalf of Superintendent Beverly Hall insisted she was not aware of widespread cheating.”  An off-camera voice says, “Answers … Continue Reading →