Annual Report 2005
The Institute’s environmental research plays an important role in state water planning.
Public officials increasingly require detailed information as even the most basic policy decisions become complicated in today's rapidly changing environment. Objective, systematic research by Vinson Institute faculty in 2005 took many forms.
The new Tax and Expenditure Data Center (TED) helps Georgia county officials make better informed revenue forecasting and expenditure projections through access to a variety of data which local governments are required to supply to the state each. TED is designed to assist officials in identifying other governments that might be used for comparison and in storing individual profiles that can be accessed repeatedly as different analyses are performed. In addition to providing a research tool for individual governments, the data center also allows a look at general fiscal conditions in the state.
The Vinson Institute is recognized nationally and statewide for the quality and expertise of its environmental policy research. Under contract from the Georgia Environmental Protections Division, faculty and staff conducted extensive research in support of the state's efforts to development a comprehensive water management plan. Research assistance on a variety of other topics was provided to the state legislative natural resources committees as well as to regional and national organizations.
The National Center for the Study of Counties (NCSC) is a leading research center for the study of practical issues important to county government. Each year, Institute research specialists survey county elected officials and directors of state county government organizations on trends and special topics, which in 2005 included federal plans to cut community block grants and county costs of policing methamphetamine labs.
The Survey Research and Data Service Unit also provided timely research support on request for many state and local entities in 2005. In addition, the Institute's quarterly Peach State Poll provided policymakers with Georgians' views on such topics as end-of-life decisions, funding public education, the performance of the federal government, and the impact of new residents on the state.
The Institute's economic research expanded in 2005 into issues related to public health, lump-sum retirement benefits management, and the implications of state property tax law variation on county revenue systems. The Georgia Economic Modeling System (GEMS) continues to provide state and local clients with specialized economic impact analysis critical to changes in tax policies, economic development initiatives, transportation projects, and tourism.
Policy research and analysis distributed through the Public Policy Research Series included a report on quality-of-life issues of single mothers in Georgia and state-level adjustment assistance related to free trade.