Archive for February, 2012

2/19: A question of HOPE

Moderated by Maureen Downey

The history of HOPE can be told through the nearly two decades of newspaper headlines about the popular scholarship program: “Gov. Miller gives students HOPE,” “More students getting HOPE,” “HOPE running out” and “Can we keep HOPE alive?”

There’s one headline that no one in Georgia ever wants to see: “HOPE is gone.”

A victim of its own success, soaring tuitions and improved college attendance, the HOPE scholarship is running out of money. More than 256,000 students received a HOPE benefit last year, compared with fewer than 200,000 a decade ago.

The Georgia Lottery cannot keep up with both HOPE and pre-k, and lawmakers have been scrambling to come up with solutions.

Read the rest of what the AJC Editorial Board has to say, along with two commentaries  by Gov. Nathan Deal and Rep. Stacey Abrams. Then tell us what you think.

The history of HOPE can be told through the nearly two decades of newspaper headlines about the popular …

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2/17: Grading Atlanta for racial equity

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

A Washington-based think tank has released a study of racial equality in 100 top metro areas, giving Atlanta a good grade overall for black integration and a poor one for Latino integration.

Today, a lead researcher writes about the rankings while a local expert looks behind the statistics to show how neighborhood realities paint a different picture than the numbers.

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2/16: Give water polluters options?

Moderated by Rick Badie

State Sen. Rick Jeffares has proposed legislation that gives water polluters options to avoid paying fines if they clean up spills.

The bill, he says, would allow municipalities and governments to respond more efficiently to crises.

Some environmentalists say Senate Bill 269 guts state law. Ogeechee Riverkeeper Dianna Wedincamp explains that view.

What do you think?

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2/15: Should Georgia raise minimum wage?

Moderated by Rick Badie
Georgia’s minimum wage for some workers of $5.15 an hour stands $2.10 shy of the federal wage, something state Rep. Rashad Taylor of Atlanta wants to change.

Advocates say workers deserve more, given inflation and basic living expenses.

The director of a state small-business association argues an increase would stifle economic momentum and even hurt hiring.

What do you think?

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2/14: Streetcars worth the investment?

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

Ground has been broken on construction of a new streetcar line in downtown Atlanta. The federal government is funding about half the cost, which the city estimates at $84.7 million.

Critics point to expensive subsidies needed to build and run streetcars, while supporters I spoke with claim the economic runoff in jobs and infrastructure is well worth the investment.

What do you think?

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2/13: Amendment vital to education reform?

Moderated by Maureen Downey

The Legislature is likely this week to revisit a controversial constitutional amendment that would allow the state to approve charter schools. The sponsor explains in a column today why the amendment is vital to education reform.

I interview a MacArthur “Genius Grant” winner about why race still matters in the classroom. Comment below or on Maureen Downey’s Get Schooled blog.

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2/12: State as transit co-conductor

By the AJC Editorial Board

You’d think the opponents of overreaching, department-of-central-planning-type government who control the Georgia General Assembly would be overjoyed at the chance to cede control of mass transit in the Atlanta region. Especially given the state pays precious little of the cost anyway.

Think again. The final report of the latest task force studying transit governance reaches the same old, tired, Big Brotherish conclusion that the elected leaders and planning professionals of the nation’s ninth-largest metropolis really can’t be trusted to oversee a public transportation system that’s heavily funded by locally raised tax dollars. Nope, the state warrants final say in these matters.

If that conclusion sounds strange, and unacceptable in its current form, it should. For it’s no way to run a railroad or bus line.

There’s a better way, one that will minimize the heavy hand of government intrusiveness while maximizing the chances …

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2/10: Health care and religious institutions

Moderated by Tom Sabulis
The new federal rule requiring religious schools and hospitals to include birth control and other reproductive services in their health care coverage continues to draw headlines.

Today,  Atlanta’s Catholic archbishop writes about the government’s “dangerous interference” with religious groups, while a local  Baptist pastor says the law is “essential” and fundamentally fair.

What do you think?

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2/9: Decision. A reversal. A resignation

Moderated by Rick Badie

A decision. A reversal. A resignation. Karen Handel, vice president of public policy for Susan G. Komen for the Cure, resigned from the breast cancer charity Tuesday.

Officials from local affiliates of Planned Parenthood and Susan G. Komen for the Cure share views on the now-abandoned grants policy, subsequent dust-up and how it played out here.

We also excerpt Handel’s resignation letter.

To read more on Handel’s response, check Jim Galloway’s Political Insider.

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2/8: Will transportation tax be beneficial?

Moderated by Rick Badie

Gridlock chokes economic activity. This we know. Supporters of a 1 percent regional transportation tax say projects funded by the measure would fuel sustainable development.

Today, an executive touts its economic benefits for the Southside while a tax opponent predicts impediments to growth in that region.

Tell us what you think.

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