September 16: Health Connect South 2015 takes place at the Georgia Aquarium. This amazing daylong program highlights health collaborations and innovations throughout the Southeast, with a special focus on the ebola response. Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, Commissioner of Public Health and former Chairman of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation is a featured speaker. And Foundation members who register by August 31 get 20 percent off the registration fee with the promotion code GPPF_HCS02015. Register here.
October 15: Early bird deadline! Just one week left to claim your Early Bird Discount for the Sixth Annual Georgia Legislative Policy Forum. The $100 rate expires Friday, September 4. Latest to joining the list of experts: John Goodman, known as the Father of Health Savings Accounts. Register now to attend the event at the Renaissance Waverly Atlanta on Thursday, Oct. 15. Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute, is the keynote. The theme is, “Wisdom, Justice and Opportunity.” Details here. After September 4, registration is $125 per person. Register here. (Sponsorships are available; contact Benita Dodd.)
Quotes of Note
“The car produced by-products of its own, but none of them posed the direct and severe health risks that came from rotting horse carcasses and millions of pounds of manure in the streets.” – Steven Horwitz
“Advocates for urban areas have a lot of good ideas that can make our cities better, but they need to think about how those ideas apply in the context of specific city or neighborhood in question. One size fits all thinking didn’t work in the past, and it’s still a bad idea today.” – Aaron M. Renn
Playing favorites: Mortgage-related deductions tend to benefit more those homebuyers who itemize, who are more likely to be middle and upper income earners, a study finds. Further findings suggest these types of deductions have no significant effect on the decision to buy a home but do influence the size of the home purchased. Source: NCPA.org
Road hazard: More than 28 percent of the nation’s major urban roads are in substandard condition and provide an unacceptably rough ride, according to a new TRIP survey. Roads are worst in San Francisco, where 74 percent are in poor condition. In Atlanta, 18 percent of roads are in poor condition. The study estimated this can cost motorists as much as $1,044 annually.
Traffic delays: Atlanta ranks No. 12 in the nation for traffic congestion in the latest study by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute. Washington, D.C., ranked worst. On the bright side, Atlanta ranks No. 1 in the nation for honesty, according to an Honest Tea study.
Traffic deaths: If driving is so much safer – airbags, backup cameras, etc. – why are road fatalities increasing? Consider the economic and regulatory environment, writes Jim Gorzelany in Forbes. More cars are on the road as the economy improves, meaning more wrecks, and fuel-efficiency goals create less protective, lighter-weight vehicles.
Energy and environment
While you were sleeping: The Obama administration admits its punitive, costly Clean Power Plan is mere symbolism, to “trigger global action.” As expected, it’s being ignored: “To help resolve the shortfall in coal supply and to support expanded coal-fired generation, India has set a coal production target of 1.5 billion metric tons by 2020,” the U.S. Energy Information Administration reports. To do that, India is “easing environmental restrictions, permitting processes and land acquisition.”
Policy pollution: Writing in The Hill after a contractor for the Environmental Protection Agency polluted Colorado’s Animas River, Arizona Congressman Paul A. Gosar declares: “Under Obama, the executive branch has swelled into a monolithic web of lawmaking agencies. Rather than working with Congress, the president has implemented his radical Leftist agenda by repeatedly issuing new regulations through executive branch agencies. And no agency has been more aggressive and lawless in pushing the president’s misguided agenda than the EPA.”
Choice works: School choice is working for low-income and minority students, according to a new report from the Reason Foundation. Among the findings: Urban charter schools are significantly outperforming the traditional district peers in reading and math; they offer, on average, the equivalent of 40 extra days of learning in math and 28 extra days in reading per year. Minority students who participated in a privately funded school voucher program were 10 percent more likely to enroll in college and 35 percent more likely to graduate than their peers in traditional public schools.
Industry leader: Georgia Tech was ranked No. 5 in Industry Week’s list of Top 10 Supply Chain Schools for 2015.
Banner year: Georgia’s fiscal year 2015 state revenues were the highest on record, and the outlook is better for 2016. Not so in Alaska, which faces a $4 billion shortfall in a $6 billion budget thanks to falling oil prices!
Did you know? The average American worker puts in 30 fewer hours than her 1988 counterpart, yet is almost $18,000 richer! Source: Cato Institute
Innovation: The Reason Foundation’s Leonard Gilroy interviews Georgia State Sen. Hunter Hill about pension and infrastructure challenges for his “Innovators in Action 2015” series.
Tax break transparency: A new rule by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) will require cities and states for the first time to disclose tax abatement agreements, which will reveal the loss of revenue from corporate tax breaks for economic development projects.
Less free: Why does Canada rank No. 6 and the United States No. 20 on the Fraser Institute’s Human Freedom Index? Because of this nation’s erosion of property rights, expansion of quasi-judicial regulations and “significant weakening in the rule of law.”
This month in the archives: In August 2004, the Foundation published, “Playing Favorites on Land Use Won’t Solve Congestion.” It noted that “a recent ARC survey found that people are willing to leave their cars for public transportation only if it’s cheap, fast and gets them where they need to be.”
The Forum: In “Checking Up On Health,” Benita Dodd writes about nutrition confusion, Cadillac taxes, lobbyists and more. Plus, read about, “The Assault on Free Speech,” by Michael Reitz of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.
Visit www.georgiapolicy.org to read our latest commentary, “Survey Finds One-Third of Ga. School Districts Contract Out Services,” by Michael LaFaive and Kelly McCutchen.
Have a great weekend!
Kelly McCutchen and Benita Dodd
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The Georgia Public Policy Foundation has hit another homerun with its Guide to the Issues. This is must reading for anyone interested in public policy in Georgia, and it is an outstanding road map for conservative, common sense solutions to our challengers of today and tomorrow.