This November, Georgians will make critical decisions about their economy, their families and their livelihoods via the votes they cast for a variety of public offices. Fortunately, they have a time-tested resource to help inform these decisions in the Georgia Public Policy Foundation’s “Guide to the Issues.”
Georgia exists at a pivotal time and place, politically. It is no surprise that the past few years have seen the state ascend to a higher priority for national political analysis. Georgia is a diverse state in every sense of the word. The Peach State boasts a formidable variation of demographics, economic realities, ecosystems, philosophies and priorities. It is also one of the best states in the country for business. Agriculture and manufacturing have always had a home here, but Georgia has also become a hub for technology and the film industry. As Georgia is influenced by intensifying political and economic forces, it becomes more influential, itself. Our secondary moniker, “The Empire State of the South,” may have never been more applicable than it is now.
This makes our work all the more important. The Georgia Public Policy Foundation strives to be a leading resource for fact-based policies that influence positive changes in Georgians’ lives. As Georgians consider the state and local issues up for debate this year, we are proud to announce the release of our latest “Guide to the Issues.“
“Guide to the Issues” contains enduring principles and timely policy recommendations upon which Georgia’s elected officials can base laws, ordinances, rules and regulations without fear of partisan influence. These policies and recommendations are based on principles of limited government, free enterprise and individual responsibility.
This year, we narrowed our focus to seven of the state’s most pressing subjects: the economy, education, healthcare, Medicaid, occupational licensing, taxes and spending, and transportation.
Each of these issues is timely and has implications for Georgians. In addition to practical policy recommendations, we include relevant studies and commentary on applications of our principles.
One example of these is on the healthcare front. The Foundation recently highlighted the shortage of healthcare workers in parts of the state, and proposed full practice authority for nurse practitioners as a practical solution. The coming election and the potential for shifting political realities means that this as well as more mainstream healthcare debates, such as that over the expansion of Medicaid, will be increasingly relevant in the new year.
The fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, which included controversial policy-making on behalf of public schools, led to 2021 being dubbed the “year of school choice.” This year has seen much of the ensuing political fight play out throughout the country. While some states have recently striven toward improving choice for students and their families, the debate is comparatively stalemated in Georgia. The Foundation continues to advocate for freedom for Georgia parents to choose the best education for their children and models of curriculum and funding that benefit students first and foremost.
An extension of the Foundation’s support for defending economic opportunity in Georgia is our support for occupational licensing reform. Licensing laws are obstacles to many citizens seeking legal occupations, and many of them are not sufficiently justified by the government. We believe qualifications for licensure should be reduced, not only as a matter of liberty, but in order to maintain and improve Georgia’s status as a destination for business and entrepreneurship.
In the spirit of economic freedom, the Foundation also supports minimizing the impact that taxes have on economic growth. While taxes are necessary to raise revenue and fund government programs, they should focus on as broad a base as possible with the lowest rates possible. Importantly, they should target consumption over wealth and ensure fairness and simplicity. Earlier this year, the Foundation praised the Georgia General Assembly for its adoption of a bill that will significantly lower the state income tax. Georgia’s pension system, specifically its major retirement systems, is also due for re-examination in order to improve long-term solvency and reduce risk.
Finally, the Foundation has proposed several changes to address one of the most consistent day-to-day problems in Atlanta and throughout Georgia: traffic congestion and transportation. Some of these include expanding toll roads to address congestion in Metro Atlanta, mileage-based user fees in response to the increasing popularity of alternative-fuel vehicles and development of alternative freight routes.
We hope this year’s “Guide to the Issues” proves useful and informative. For three decades, our mission has been changing lives through better public policy. We pursue this goal through research and education, but what’s just as important is providing facts. As an organization that prides itself on fact-based action, we understand the importance of informed voters and citizens. “Guide to the Issues” is a summation of the conclusions we’ve drawn from the facts.
We hope to continue advancing freedom and prosperity for Georgia for years to come.